By Katia Parks
Opening up with Anna Meyers’ “Taint Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do,” Theatre Morgan’s, reinvigoration of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson invites you to a whole good Black History lesson. A drama that can make you laugh with its wit and nearly bring you to tears with its underlying story, it gives a savory taste of Wilson’s 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winning play.
Set in 1930’s Pittsburgh, PA, the play follows a African American family and their struggle to manage all the history that is attached to an family heirloom, a piano. It’s the story of a piano acting as the glue that keeps descendants of slaves connected to their deceased loved ones. It definitely hits close to home and is guaranteed to have you thinking of your own family ties.
The play had its strong moments, but it also had moments that made you stare at the actors in confusion. For example: the random singing. It was off putting because it didn’t transition well with the scenes. The actors went straight from dialogue to bellowing out songs. On the other hand, the singing was a nod to music styles like the blues, negro spirituals, boasting that one-of-a-kind big band sound as an expression heavily used by Black people in the 1930s and 1940s.
The play included multiple “middle of the road” performances, at best, and the character of Wining Boy was plainly portrayed. The actor chosen for the role did not seem to fit the cocky attitude of a successful musician, a flirty ladies man or a gambler in this drama filled story.
However, there were a couple of actors that pulled you in. The character of Berniece, portrayed by KaVonya T. Moore, was a head strong single mother who did not want to dwell in the violent history of the piano and continuously struggled with her love life as well as raising her daughter. This is Moore’s debut production with Theatre Morgan. Boy Willie, portrayed by Kenyon Parson, was a fast talking country man with just one thing in mind; leaving a legacy behind for the future generations. Parson’s embodiment of his character was phenomenal. There were times that he was so into his role, that I forgot he was a different person aside from Boy Willie. Still, the performance went on with little to no mistakes.
Theatre Morgan is set to perform at August Wilson African American Culture Center in Pittsburg, PA on March 12 at 6 p.m.
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