There is so much good theater in New York City right now. I don’t know about you, but I love watching a good play on the stage, more so than going to the movies. For me, watching actors exhibit their craft for almost three hours on stage is just poetry in motion. Luckily for us, there are several revivals of old plays being staged right now.
I had the pleasure of seeing August Wilson’s “Piano Lesson” the other night at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre (243 West 47th St.) and the highlight for me was seeing Samuel Jackson as Doaker Charles really show his theater bona fides. All of Wilson’s plays center around Black family and community and “Piano Lesson” was directed by LaTanya Richardson Jackson, someone who clearly knows how to harness her husband’s talent and energy. The true standouts in the play were Michael Potts as Wining Boy and Trai Byers as Avery. Both men may be familiar to audience members from their roles on “The Wire” and “Empire” respectively, but I had no idea they would captivate a stage in such a detailed manner. I am so looking forward to seeing them in more productions in the years to come.
Danielle Brooks as Bernice Charles was a truly believable character, further solidifying her theater credentials. I am really excited for her stage career and do hope she decides to play a diverse set of characters on and off Broadway. Of course, John David Washington was a big draw for audience members. I have quite a few notes on his performance, but will reserve my judgment for now…“Piano Lesson” is showing until Jan. 15, 2023.
I plan on seeing Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking play “A Raisin in the Sun” at The Public Theater 425 Lafayette St. (at Astor Place). No matter how many times I see this play, I always see something new in this detailed account of a Black family as they struggle, persevere, beat the odds, and find themselves beaten down by this country. There is so much packed into this 1959 classic which is on stage until Nov. 6.
I am also excited to see “Death of a Salesman” at the Hudson Theater at 141 West 44th St. (between Broadway & 6th Avenue). For those of you who are fans of “The Wire” you will be excited to see Wendell Pierce take on this iconic role from Arthur Miller’s famed play, which is showing until Jan. 15, 2023. This will be the first time we see the character of Willy Loman told from the perspective of an African American family.
These are just three of the plays showing this season. Be sure to check out theaters large and small for more great shows…including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in December.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and host of The Blackest Questions podcast at TheGrio.