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The Piano Lesson (1995)

1930's Pittsburgh, a brother comes home to claim "my half of the piano", a family heirloom; but his sister is not wanting to part with it. This is a glimpse of the conditions for ... See full summary »



(play), (teleplay)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 4 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Boy Willie (as Charles Dutton)
Carl Gordon ...
Tommy Hollis ...
Wining Boy
Tommy Lafitte ...
Lynne Innerst ...
Miss Ophelia
Harold Surratt ...
Papa Willie Boy
Elva Branson ...
Mama Berniece
Tim Hartman ...
Ben Tatar ...
Watermelon Man
Alice Eisner ...
Watermelon Lady (as Alice Gerber Eisner)


1930's Pittsburgh, a brother comes home to claim "my half of the piano", a family heirloom; but his sister is not wanting to part with it. This is a glimpse of the conditions for African-Americans as well as some of the attitudes and influences on their lives. But whether he is able to sell the piano so that he can get enough money to buy some property and "no longer have to work for someone else" involves the story (or lesson) that the piano has to show him. Written by BOB STEBBINS <stebinsbob@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


To their family, it meant more than a piano... it was their legacy and their future.


Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements | See all certifications »




Release Date:

5 February 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Piano Lesson (#44.2)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Rocky Carroll was nominated for the 1990 Tony Award (New York City) for Supporting or Features Actor in a Drama for "The Piano Lesson" for his portrayal of the character Lymon. See more »


When Doaker, Wining Boy, Boy Willie and Lymon are sitting at the kitchen table drinking and singing, the level of alcohol rises in their glasses and the bottles between shots. See more »


Featured in The 47th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

A family's past or its future - which is more important?
23 October 2006 | by (Chicago, IL United States) – See all my reviews

This play is not as simple as it first appears. There is great complexity in all of the major characters, especially in Bernice. And the use of the 'jazz set' model instead of the traditional Aristotelian'plot graph' makes all the difference! The language of the play is music itself, and eventually erupts into song. This is a wonderful debate on the importance of the past and the future in the lives of these characters, symbolized by the piano which has been passed down through the family. A cast full of excellent actors brings it to life. Loved it! I hope 'The Piano Lesson' and the other plays in Wilson's ten-play cycle will soon be available on film.

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