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Author: admin | Category: Piano Lessons Online | 11.10.2014

There is the very real presentiment of a ghost in The Piano Lesson, the 1990 Pulitzer Prize?winning drama by August Wilson, that is now having a stirring revival at the Signature Theater. Carved out of sorrow by the great-grandfather whose wife and child were sold to another master in exchange for the piano, the piano has become a family symbol, forever rooted in the memories of separation, pain and even death.
Both family friends and others, including Berniece?s 11 year-old daughter Maretha (Alexis Holt), Wining Boy (Chuck Coooper) Doaker?s Sportin? Life-like brother, and Boy Willy and even Lymon?s trollop-for-a-night Grace (Mandi Masden), get a good tossing about thanks to Wilson?s intriguing, ghost-embedded plot.
The rather hokey but theatrical exorcismic resolution is notably enhanced by lighting designer Rui Rita who dramatically casts his unsettling lights and shadows on lives once torn apart, now braced for a cataclysmic renewal. I want you to know I only use affiliate links for products or services I honestly consider will benefit my readers; and those I believe in, and use myself.
As significant as is the chillingly spectral atmosphere that director Ruben Santiago-Hudson fearlessly attends, he has even more effectively addressed the emotionally visceral changes that take place in this Pittsburgh home in 1936 (a spectacular setting by designer Michael Carnahan in which a realistic interior is framed by an expressionistic exterior). Accompanied by his fugitive friend Lyman (Jason Dirden, who is Brandon Dirden?s real-life brother), Boy Willie has arrived from the South with a truckload of ripe watermelons to sell — and a dream of finally buying his own farm with the accumulated proceeds that he hopes will include money from the sale of the piano. Santiago-Hudson?s keenly focused direction is at its best when it strays either romantically or whimsically from its course.


Boy Willie may be a little more than a hurly-burly bag of wind, but Brandon makes us see him as poignantly heroic.
Ruff, who appeared in Wilson?s Seven Guitars at the Signature, and so memorable for her performance in the film The Help, never misses a beat of Berniece?s haunted heart. If you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission at no cost to you. The main thrust of the action centers on an estranged brother and sister, the grandchildren of slaves. The play?s central conflict arises when Doaker?s widowed niece Berniece (Roslyn Ruff) refuses to even consider selling the virtually un-played piano so that her brother Boy Willie (Brandon J. There are just enough bluesy musical interludes to off-set the play?s tendency toward narrative excess and its three-hour length. Jason?s performance as Lymon is graced by a disarming charm, especially in the light of his unfortunately misplaced romantic gestures toward the vulnerable Berniece.


There are also fine performances by Eric Lenox Abrams, as Berniece?s preacher-suitor and Holt as Berniece?s daughter. Dirden (Boy Willie), Jason Dirden (Lymon), Roslyn Ruff (Berniece), Alexis Holt (Maretha), Eric Lenox Abrams (Avery), Chuck Cooper (Wining Boy), Mandi Masden (Grace). The humorously captivating performance of Cooper as the hustling piano-playing Wining Boy is no figment of the imagination.
Within the canon of Wilson?s plays that cover the African-American experience in the 20th century, and particularly those in which the natural world is invaded by the supernatural, the characters of The Piano Lesson (the 4th play in the cycle) perhaps strike the clearest and brightest notes.



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