Tis’ the season to see a Broadway show! There is so much happening on Broadway that it would only be right to fill you in on what’s new. Here is an update on all things Broadway and what shows are a MUST-SEE.
I am always ready for a spontaneous trip to New York to catch a show, and during my exploration, I notice some familiar faces on Broadway this fall and winter seasons! I’m talking about Samuel L. Jackson, Yayha Abdul Mateen II, Danielle Brooks, and more! Honestly, I couldn’t keep up with the iconic list of heavy hitters taking the stage again. Here are some shows on Broadway that I will be running to see.
The Piano Lesson
Ethel Barrymore Theatre – Until January 15, 2023
The year is 1936; The Piano Lesson is set in the home of Doaker Charles in Pittsburgh, PA. Boy Willie travels down from the countryside of Missippi with big dreams of selling their family’s 137-year-old piano. Berneice, his sister will not allow it, and the two argue over how the piano can be useful. Doaker Charles, the voice of reason, stands as the middleman and uncle to the two. Berenice has difficulty letting go of the piano due to its sentimental value and symbolism. The piano has embellished carvings of her family’s history. However, Boy Willie views the piano as an opportunity to sell in exchange for money so he can purchase the same land his ancestors once worked as slaves. The story continues focusing on the disagreement between Berneice and Boy willie. The Cast includes:
Danielle Brooks as Berniece
Tony-nominated Danielle Brooks once graced the Broadway stage in The Color Purple as Sofia. Her ability to command a room is commendable. Since then, I’ve followed her from stage to television and back to the stage again. Danielle Brooks takes the role of Berniece in the play The Piano Lesson. Danielle Brooks plays Tasha ” Taystee” Jefferson in the show Orange is the New Black. Brooks also starred as Mahalia Jackson in the film Mahalia. She will now reprise her role as Sofia in the second film adaptation of The Color Purple. Fun fact: Danielle’s audition for Julliard was a monologue as Berneice from the Piano lesson. Talk about a full-circle moment.
Samuel L. Jackson as Doaker Charles
Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson will be playing Doker Charles. Yes, you heard that right. Some may know Jackson for his essential role in the Marvel Franchise as Nick Fury. However, his credits precede him, and his tenure in the industry earns him the title of one of the greatest. According to IMDB.com, Jackson’s filmography sits a whopping 194 credits beginning in the year 1972. These credits include Madlock in Mo’ Better Blues, Stack Edwards in Goodfellas, Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction, Abel turner in Lakeview Terrace, and more. Jackson partners with his wife Latanya Richardson to help return The Piano lesson to stage 30+ years after his first appearance as Boy Willie while studying at Yale.
John David Washinton as Boy Willie
Golden Globe nominee John David Washington makes his Broadway Debut as Boy Willie in The Piano Lesson. Some may know him to be the son of Denzel Washington, but he is creating his own lane. Washington has gathered many reputable works over the years, such as Ron Stallworth in BlacKkKlansman, Protagonist in Tenet, and Malcolm in Malcolm & Marie. You may have seen Washington before his reputable work but not as an actor rather than as a former professional football player as a free agent for the St. Louis Rams in 2006.
Trai Byers as Avery
Yale Alumni Trai Byers will make his Broadway debut as Avery in the Piano Lesson. Many may know Byers for his role as Andre Lyon on the famous Television show Empire. His filmography includes James Forman in Selma and Boston in The 24th. Fun fact: Trai Byers sat down with Broadway Direct, recalling his time as an understudy to Charles Dutton, who was the original Boy Willie on Broadway. The remaining cast includes:
- April Mathis as Grace
- Known for:
- Joanie Kangas in The Blacklist
- Captain Cassie Sampson in Evil
- Kaye Henry in New Amsterdam
- Known for:
- Michael Potts as Winning Boy
- Known for:
- Slow Drag in the film adaptation of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
- King Omari in God Friended Me
- Joseph Petiport in She’s Gotta Have It
- Known for:
- Ray Fisher as Lymon
- Known for:
- Gene Mobley in Women of the Movement
- Cyborg in Batman v Superman
- Henry Hays in True Detective
- Known for:
- Nadia Daniel as Maretha
- Jurnee Swan as Maretha
Director Latanya Richardson Jackson
In her Broadway directorial debut, LaTanya Richardson Jackson directs the first August Wilson play to be directed by a woman. Jackson may be known for her successful acting career, from Lorraine in Malcolm X to Mama Mabel Stoke in Luke Cage. Mrs. Jackson’s catalog stretched from television to film and right back to Off-Broadway. She received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in A Raisin In the Sun. Familiar with August Wilson’s work, Jackson steps into the role of Director for the Broadway play The Piano Lesson.
American playwright August Wilson is known for his award-winning plays embodying life through the African American experience from 1900-1990. Each play entails a historical description of their present reality but incorporates the liveliness and realism of a typical black household (and story). August Wilson has attained a Pulitzer Prize for Drama for The Piano Lesson and Fences, several Tony Awards for Best Play, and several New York Critic Awards Wilson’s works speak for themselves, illustrating complexity, depth, symbolism, and resiliency. Here is a list of all playwrights in order of events. Click Here to purchase his collection.
- Gem of the Ocean (1990)
- Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (1910)
- Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1920)
- The Piano Lesson (1930)
- Seven Guitars (1940)
- Fences (1950)
- Two Trains Running (1960)
- Jitney (1970)
- King Hedley II (2001)
- Radio Golf (1990)
John Golden Theatre – Until January 15, 2023
TopDog/Underdog is a tragic yet comedic tells the story of two brothers, Lincoln and Booth, who are emotionally taunted by their past. Tied by the game of three-card Monte, the brothers are confronted by their childhood trauma. Lincoln works at the local arcade dressed as Abraham Lincoln, while Booth is a master at three-card monte. The play is centered around the apartment as Lincoln and Boothe go down memory lane, expressing some traumatic experiences in their lives. Things take a turn for the worse once Booth faces a harsh jolt to reality over the love of his life. The cast includes:
Corey Hawkins as Lincoln
Tony Award- nominee Corey Hawkins is known for his role as Dr. Dre in Straight Outta Compton, Kwame Ture in BlacKkKlansmen, and Benny from In the Heights. During his younger years, Hawkins attended the Duke Ellington School of the arts and later attended Juilliard, where he received the John Houseman Award. Hawkins made his Broadway debut as Tybalt in the 2013 Romeo and Juliet. In 2017 he received a Tony nomination for best actor. One of Hawkins’s most commemorable body of work for me would be his role as Lord Macduff in the film adaptation of Tragedy of Macbeth. For anyone who knows Shakespeare, you know the text is not for the weakhearted. Hawkins gives a fantastic performance alongside Oscar Winner Denzel Washinton.
Yahya Abdul Mateen II as Booth
Primetime Emmy Award winner Yahya Abdul Mateen II has developed an outstanding acting career. Some may know him as the “new” Morpheus in The Matrix Resurrections and others from the role of Cal Abar in Watchman. No matter the role, his choice of work will always be significant and memorable. His role as Anthony McKoy in Canyman will always resonate due to his connection to the role by portraying his take as a black man in America and the oppressions forced upon him. His training in preparation for this role is no surprise as a Yale Alumni.
Kenny Leon has a very substantial and reputable career in this industry as a highly sought-after Director. From his humble beginnings as the artistic director of the Alliance Theatre Company in Atlanta, he gained the attention of Broadway and Hollywood. By 2004 Leon would direct A Raisin in the Sun, starring Phylicia Rashad and Sean Combs. From there, he’d continue to direct August Wilson classics such as Gem of the Ocean and Radio Gulf. By 2008 Leon won a Tony Award for directing the film adaptation of A Rasin in the Sun. Fun Fact: Kenny Leon is also the director for Holler if you Hear Me featuring Tupa Shakur’s reputable discography. Kenny Leon’s genius sharp eye keeps him booked and highly desired. You can consider Leon to be the go-to for dramatic storytelling.
Suzan-Lori Parks is an American playwright, screenwriter, and novelist most known for her work on the screenplay for Their Eyes were watching God in partnership with Harpo Productions. She became the first African American female to receive a Pulitzer Prize for her play Topdog/Underdog in 2002. Parks also wrote a screenplay for The Great Debaters in 2007. One of Park’s most recent works includes The United States vs. Billie Holliday, which was nominated for an Oscar. Parks wears many hats, one includes her position as a teacher at the Tisch School of the Arts in the Rita & Burton Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing located in New York.
Death of a Salesman
Hudson Theatre – Until January 15th, 2023
Death of a Salesman tells the tragic story of an aging man named Willy Loman set in New York in the 40s. Willy Loman, a traveling salesman is saddened by his decline in health. Loman suffers from a degenerating mental illness while his supportive family helps him through the process. The story continues through a series of memories of Willy Loman’s life with his wife Linda and sons Happy and Biff. The story also touches on the father-and-son diaspora and the complexities of a child living up to their father’s standards. This causes a discourse between Biff, happy, and Willy, ultimately ending in tragedy.
Wendell Pierce as Willy Loman
Wendell Pierce debuts as the first black Actor to play Willy Loman in the Death of a Salesman. Though many may know him for his role as Detective William Bunk on The Wire, his credits include Reverend Hosea Williams in Selma and David Gorda in The Night Catches us. This Juilliard Alum began his career in television in the early 1980s, such as the Equalizer and A Man Called Hawk. Pierce served as producer on the 2007 August Wilson play Radio Gulf, directed by Kenny Leon.
Sharon D Clarke as Linda Loman
British actress and singer Sharon D. Clarke is known for her role as Lola Griffin in Holby City, a BBC drama series. Clarke’s filmography includes The Walking Dead, Rocketman, and Tau. Clarke made her Broadway debut in the play Caroline, or Change in 2021. She’d go on to receive a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a leading role in a musical. Clarke stage lengthy and reputable stage credits include Ma’Raineys Black Bottom, Hairspray, The Lion King, Porgy and Bess, Chicago, and more. Clarke was appointed as a member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for serving in drama.
André DeShields as Ben Loman
Tony Award winnerAndré DeShields would be considered one of the veterans in the acting industry. DeShields is titled one of the most creditable theater actors beginning his career as early as 1964 in the stage play A Raisin in the Sun by August Wilson while attending Wilmington College. He continued his acting career in Off-Broadway shows, leading him to his Broadway debut as Xander in Warp! DeShields is a person of many talents. He worked as a choreographer for Broadway. His stage credits include The Full Monty, King Lear, The Jungle Book, and more. Deshields has appeared on television in shows such as Sex in the City, Law and Order, and Cosby.
Director Miranda Cromwell’s credits include Rockets and Blue Lights, Half Breed, The Rest of your Life, and more. Cromwell began her directorial journey at the Bush Theatre, Talawa theatre, and Company Three. She also serves as a script reader for the National Theatre and as Artistic Director for Twisted Theatre. In 2020 Cromwell won Best Director for the Oliver Awards for Death of a Salesman. This will be considered Cromwell’s directorial debut for Death of a Salesman.
Author Miller is an American playwright, essayist, and screenwriter. Miller spent his beginning years are a copywriter and would later join New York University and the University of New Hampshire as faculty. From there, he continued his writing journey by joining the League of American Writers. Miller had a rocky life, but they did not stop him from creating screenplays that would go on to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Some of his top work includes All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, Crucible, Misfits, A View from the Bridge, and more.
There are so many amazing Musicals and plays dominating Broadway right now that I can not fit them all into one article. However, check down below for a short list of some I’d love to see. To view more, click here.
A Strange Loop
Lyceum Theatre, 149 West 45th St., New York, NY
The Lion King
Minskoff Theatre, 1515 Broadway St., New York, NY
Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W 47th St., New York, NY.
Ohio State Murders
James Earl Jones Theatre, 138 W. 48th St., New York, NY