Off-Broadway's Acclaimed Piano Lesson Gets Final Extension
By Kenneth Jones
Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre Company is extending the run of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson one final time, now to Jan. 20. It had previously been extended three times, to Jan. 13.
The production, directed by Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, was originally scheduled to conclude its run on Dec. 9 and was then extended through Dec. 23. Its initial run has sold out.
The new production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play about family, legacy and ghosts, began previews Oct. 31 and opened Nov. 18 (to enthusiastic reviews) at The Irene Diamond Stage in The Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues. Tickets during the extension weeks are $75 each.
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.
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).
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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