‘The Piano Lesson’ Netflix Movie: Everything We Know So Far

Everything we know about The Piano Lesson film adaptation in the works at Netflix.

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Picture: The Piano Lesson Play Assets

Netflix is set to produce an adaptation of the critically acclaimed play The Piano Lesson, which recently concluded its run on Broadway and featured Samuel L. Jackson and John David Washington who will both reprise their roles. The movie is due out in late 2024 and here’s the latest on everything we know so far. 

The movie will be directed by Malcolm Washington, for whom The Piano Lesson will be his directorial debut. Previously he was a second unit director on The Last Bookstore and The Trouble Man. The script is co-written by Malcolm Washington and Virgil Williams (Mudbound, 24, Criminal Minds). Denzel Washington, Katia Washington, and Todd Black produce the Piano Lesson.

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(L-R) Malcolm Washington, Katia Washington, Pauletta Washington, and Denzel Washington

Netflix first announced it was adapting the August Wilson play in March 2021. It’s their second August Wilson adaptation following Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which scored Netflix two Oscars following its release in late 2021.

What’s the plot of The Piano Lesson?

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Picture: Getty Images

Netflix’s The Piano Lesson is based on August Wilson’s 1987 play of the same name, which received high critical and audience acclaim. The play was nominated for multiple Tony Awards, and Wilson won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990.

The play was already adapted into a movie in 1995, which starred Charles S. Dutton, Alfre Woodard, Carl Gordon, and others.

In 2010, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis starred in the revival of August Wilson’s Fences on Broadway. They both won Tony Awards for their roles.

The play recently returned to Broadway, dubbed the “event of the season,” with the final broadway performance on January 29th, 2023. It held its opening night in October 2022 and has had rave reviews from critics and audiences like.

Here’s the plot synopsis for Netflix’s The Piano Lesson:

“At the heart of the story stands the ornately carved upright piano which, as the Charles family’s prized, hard-won possession, has been gathering dust in the parlor of Berniece Charles’s Pittsburgh home. When Boy Willie, Berniece’s exuberant brother, bursts into her life with his dream of buying the same Mississippi land that his family had worked as slaves, he plans to sell their antique piano for the hard cash he needs to stake his future. But Berniece refuses to sell, clinging to the piano as a reminder of the history that is their family legacy. This dilemma is the real “piano lesson,” reminding us that blacks are often deprived both of the symbols of their past and of opportunity in the present.”

Who is cast in The Piano Lesson?

In late February 2023, we got our first casting call, including roles such as Maretha, Grace, Boy Charles, Dolly, Crawley, Sutter, Young Boy Willie, Mama Ola, and Miss Ophelia.

In mid-April 2023, Netflix announced the first six major actors to be either reprising their roles from the play or debuting.

  • Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Avengers) as Doaker Charles
  • John David Washington (BlacKKKlansman, Tenet) as Boy Willie
  • Ray Fisher (Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Rebel Moon) as Lymon
  • Danielle Deadwyler (Till, The Harder They Fall) as Berniece
  • Michael Potts (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Rustin) as Winning Boy
  • Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton, The Tragedy of Macbeth)
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Cast grid for Netflix’s The Piano Lesson – Pictures courtesy of Netflix

On May 30th, Netflix confirmed Erykah Badu would make a cameo appearance with multiple musical performances for the movie. The R&B, soul, and hip-hop singer is best known for tracks like On & On, Next Lifetime, Didn’t Cha Know, and Bag Lady.

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Picture: Jordan Smith

What’s the production status of The Piano Lesson?

Netflix’s The Piano Lesson is currently in pre-production. Filming is scheduled to start on April 17th, 2023, primarily in Atlanta, Georgia the US. Some were surprised at Georgia being picked for the shooting location given much of the original story takes place in Pittsburgh.  

According to WGXA, the movie had some additional filming in Macon, Georgia. “They fell in love with what they saw here in Macon and wanted to film a few more scenes they felt we were perfect for,” Visit Macon Senior Vice President & COO Aaron Buzza told the news outlet.  

The scheduled wrap date for The Piano Lesson is tentatively set for June 17th, 2023.

What’s the Netflix release date for The Piano Lesson?

Netflix hasn’t confirmed an official release date for The Piano Lesson just yet but did include it amongst its 2024 film release lineup. We’re expecting this film to be among the awards circuit so don’t be surprised at a TIFF premiere or something like that. We’ll keep you posted. 

We can confirm that the film was officially rated PG on July 17th for strong language, violent content, some suggestive references and smoking. We can also confirm the films runtime of 2 hours and 5 minutes. 

Are you looking forward to watching The Piano Lesson on Netflix? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by

Tigran is our resident previews writer. He works on collecting everything known about upcoming Netflix Original projects and also is editor-in-chief of Redanian Intelligence. Resides in France.