For Immediate Release
Contact: David Henderson, 860-520-7250

Boy Willie: The only thing my daddy had to give me was that piano.
Berniece: Money can’t buy what that piano cost.
—August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson

Hartford Stage Announces Cast and Creative Team For August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson

Cast Features Roscoe Orman, 42-year Veteran of “Sesame Street,”And Tony Award-winner Cleavant Derricks

Directed by Jade King Carroll

HARTFORD, CT — SEPTEMBER 19, 2016 — Hartford Stage Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak and Managing Director Michael Stotts announced today the cast and creative team for August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, directed by Jade King Carroll, who helmed our critically-acclaimed production of Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters’ First 100 Years last spring.

The cast features Roscoe Orman, a 42-year veteran of “Sesame Street,” and Cleavant Derricks, who won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for the original production of Dreamgirls.

Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Williamson said, “We’re delighted to have Jade King Carroll return to Hartford Stage to direct this wonderful cast in one of the greatest plays of the 20th Century.”

Orman played Gordon Robinson, one of the central human characters on “Sesame Street” from 1974-2016. He won the AUDELCO Award for Excellence in African-American Theatre for Woodie King’s Do Lord Remember Me, and he has been nominated for that award four other times for such Off-Broadway productions as Power Play; Massinissa and the Tragedy of the House of Thunder; and The Fabulous Miss Marie. Other appearances include Fences on Broadway and more than 70 guest spots on TV, including recurring roles on “The Wire” and “All My Children.” He will play Doaker in The Piano Lesson.

Derricks, one of the stars of the long-running cult favorite “Sliders” on Fox TV, also has appeared on Broadway in Bob Fosse’s Big Deal (Tony Award nomination), Your Arm’s Too Short to Box with God, Brooklyn and When Hell Freezes Over, I’ll Skate. His films include Moscow on the Hudson and Wes Craven’s Carnival of Souls. In addition to more than 30 guest appearances on TV, he has been a regular on five series, including “Thea,” “Good Sports” and “Whoops!” He will play Wining Boy in The Piano Lesson.

The cast also includes Toccarra Cash (The Fabulous Miss Marie Off-Broadway) as Grace; Clifton Duncan (The Good Person of Szechwan at The Public Theatre) as Boy Willie; Galen Kane (This Land Was Made at Yale School of Drama) as Lymon; Christina Acosta Robinson (Seven Guitars at Two River Theater) as Berniece; Daniel Morgan Shelley (Hamlet at Classic Stage Company) as Avery; and Elise Taylor, 10, as Maretha. Taylor is a student at Duggan Elementary School in Waterbury. (Tyra Harris, 10, of Bristol will understudy the role of Maretha. Tyra is a three-year veteran of Hartford Stage’s A Christmas Carol—A Ghost Story of Christmas.)

In August Wilson's powerful Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, a fractured family comes together to consider the legacy of their father, as his grown son and daughter argue over the heirloom he left behind.  A ghost story with traditional African-American songs, The Piano Lesson exposes the family's struggles as they attempt to exorcise the demons of the past and bring forth a new hope for the future.

The Piano Lesson represents the 1930s decade in Wilson’s “The Pittsburgh Cycle” of 10 plays, each one representing African-American life over a decade in the twentieth century. Other titles include Fences, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Two Trains Running and Seven Guitars.

In addition to the Hartford Stage/Long Wharf Theatre production of Having Our Say, Director Carroll’s credits include Trouble in Mind at Two River Theater; The Piano Lesson at The McCarter Theatre; and The Whipping Man and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at Portland Stage.

In addition to Carroll, the creative team includes set design by Alexis Distler (Having Our Say at Hartford Stage); costume design by Toni-Leslie James (Amazing Grace on Broadway); lighting design by York Kennedy (Rear Window at Hartford Stage); sound design by Karin Graybash (Having Our Say at Hartford Stage); and dramaturgy by Fiona Kyle (The Shape She Makes at A.R.T.).

Baikida Carroll, who composed original music for Having Our Say for the McCarter Theatre, Hartford Stage and Long Wharf Theatre, is the composer for ‘Piano’ as well.

Lori Ann Zepp (The Body of an American at Hartford Stage) will serve as production stage manager. 

The Production Sponsor for August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson is The Saunders Foundation. Production support is provided by Federman, Lally & Remis.

The 2016-17 Season also is sponsored by the Greater Hartford Arts Council and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

Special Dates
Previews begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 13
Opening Night: 8 p.m. Friday, October 21
Closes: 2 p.m. Sunday, November 13

Tickets & Performances
Tue, Wed, Thu, Sun at 7:30 p.m.—Fri, Sat at 8 p.m.—Sat, Sun at 2 p.m.
Wed matinee at 2 p.m. on November 9 only
Weekly schedules vary. For details, visit

Tickets for all shows start at $25. Student tickets: $20. For group discounts (10 or more), contact Theresa MacNaughton at 860-520-7114.

For all other tickets, please call the Hartford Stage box office at 860-527-5151 or visit

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Special Events

LGBT Night Out
Wednesday, October 19, 6 p.m.

Pre-show nosh and complimentary wine, beer, soda and water (plus drink specials at cash bar) for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patrons and their allies. Free
Special Guests: GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network)

Sunday Afternoon Discussion, October 23
Enjoy a lecture from artists and scholars connected with the production immediately following the 2 p.m. matinee. Free

Open Captioned Performances
October 30, 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

For patrons who are deaf or have hearing loss — free service with admission

AfterWords Discussion
Tuesdays, November 1, 8 & Wednesday, November 9

Join members of the cast and our Artistic staff for a free discussion, immediately following select 7:30 p.m. performances on Tuesday or the 2 p.m. Wednesday matinee.

Audio Described Performance
November 5, 2 p.m.

For patrons who are blind or have low vision — free service with admission

Roscoe Orman

Roscoe Orman

Cleavant Derricks

Cleavant Derricks


Now in our 53rd year, Hartford Stage is under the leadership of Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak and Managing Director Michael Stotts. One of the nation’s leading resident theatres, Hartford Stage is known for producing innovative revivals of classics and provocative new plays and musicals, including 73 world and American premieres, as well as offering a distinguished education program, which reaches close to 20,000 students annually.

Since Tresnjak’s appointment in 2011 the theatre has presented the world premieres of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway, winner of four 2014 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical by Tresnjak; Rear Window with Kevin Bacon; the new musical Anastasia by Terrence McNally, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens; Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Water by the Spoonful, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama; Breath & Imagination by Daniel Beaty; Big Dance Theatre’s Man in a Case with Mikhail Baryshnikov; and Reverberation by Matthew Lopez.

Hartford Stage has earned many of the nation’s most prestigious awards, including the 1989 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Other national honors include Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, OBIE, and New York Critics Circle awards. Hartford Stage has produced nationally renowned titles, including the New York transfers of Enchanted April; The Orphans' Home Cycle; Resurrection (later retitled Through the Night); The Carpetbagger's Children; and Tea at Five.

The leading provider of theatre education programs in Connecticut, Hartford Stage’s offerings include student matinees, in-school theatre residencies, teen performance opportunities, theatre classes for students (ages 3-18) and adults, afterschool programs and professional development courses.    

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