|In addition to not getting around to writing about Downstate, I also didn't get a chance to write about The Piano Lesson. This production was fine, although I thought the Signature revival with Brandon J Dirden, Roslyn Ruff, and Chuck Cooper was much better. I thought John David Washington has tons of charisma, but he starts at 11 and has nowhere to go. He has a lot of lines throughout the play talking about his plans, and it started to feel very repetitive because he says them the same way every time. I also found it hard to understand him at first, which is something I don't usually have a problem with, because he was talking so fast and not enunciating very well. Danielle Brooks and Samuel L Jackson were both very good, but I thought the best performances were by Ray Fisher and April Matthis. April Matthis took what could have been a throwaway part and made her into one of the most interesting people on stage.
I also didn't like the way the spirits were handled at the end. Some of it was played for laughs, which seemed totally wrong at this point in the piece.
The piano itself was fantastic, though.
I was also a little surprised that Brooks is in Featured rather than Lead for the Tonys, although S Epatha Merkerson was also in Featured for the original run. Rosyln Ruff won the Lortel for Lead Actress for the Signature version.