Signature's Piano Lesson, With Chuck Cooper, Brandon J. Dirden, Roslyn Ruff, Given Additional Week Off-Broadway
By Michael Gioia
Director Ruben Santiago-Hudson's Signature Theatre Company staging of the late August Wilson's The Piano Lesson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play about family, legacy and ghosts, has been given a one-week extension prior to the show's Oct. 30 start date.
The production, which was originally scheduled through Dec. 9, will now play through Dec. 16 at the Irene Diamond Stage at the Pershing Square Signature Center on West 42nd Street. Opening night is scheduled for Nov. 18.
The cast includes Eric Lenox Abrams (HBO's "Boardwalk Empire") as Avery, Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper (Finian's Rainbow, The Life) as Wining Boy, Brandon J. Dirden (Clybourne Park, Signature's The First Breeze of Summer) as Boy Willie, Jason Dirden (Signature's The First Breeze of Summer) as Lymon, Alexis Holt (South Pacific tour) as Maretha, Mandi Masden (Off-Broadway debut) as Grace, Roslyn Ruff (Signature's Seven Guitars, "The Help") as Berniece and James A. Williams (Signature's My Children! My Africa!) as Doaker.
All tickets for the initial run of the production are $25 as part of the Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access.
Wilson was Signature's Playwright-in-Residence in 2006-07. Signature's mission includes returning to the titles of its alumni writers. The Piano Lesson is set in Pittsburgh's Hill District in 1936. In it, according to Signature, "the Charles family battle their surroundings and each other over their shared legacy — an antique piano." The Pulitzer Prize-winning work is the fourth play of Wilson's Century Cycle exploring the black experience in plays set in every decade of the 20th century. It's billed as "a stunning and moving drama of family, history and survival."
Santiago-Hudson, a respected director and actor, won the 1996 Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Play for August Wilson's Seven Guitars. He also starred in Wilson's Gem of the Ocean on Broadway and played the patriarch in Lydia R. Diamond Stick Fly.
The production team includes Michael Carnahan (scenic designer), Karen Perry (costume designer), Rui Rita (lighting designer), David Van Tieghem (sound designer), Bill Sims, Jr. (original music), J. David Brimmer (fight direction), Valerie Gladstone (wig & hair designer) and Vinnie Bagwell (piano sculptor). Rebecca Goldstein-Glaze is production stage manager.
The Pershing Square Signature Center is at 480 W. 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues.
To purchase tickets for all Signature productions, call the Signature Theatre Box Office at (212) 244-7529 or visit signaturetheatre.org.
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