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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?


The original Braodway production of "The Piano Lesson" by August Wilson opened at the Walter Kerr Theater on April 16, 1990, ran for 328 performances and was nominated for the 1990 Tony Award for the Best Play. Charles S. Dutton, Carl Gordon, Tommy Hollis and Lou Myers recreated their stage roles in this filmed production. 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 »


Edited into Hallmark Hall of Fame (1951) See more »

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User Reviews

rate 7 this is above average PLAY
17 October 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

i emphasize Play because it seems that earlier commentators think Dutton over emotes. all the actors are convincing. this is not to say that all Afro-Americans always acted this way in the 30's. Indeed some act this way today when they feel comfortable . her uncle probably wouldn't be singing in the house except that he felt comfortable singing with these guys around a bottle of whiskey. to say this is merely a ghost story is to miss the point. this like A Raisen In The Sun where the man sees an opportunity to finally own a piece of the rock and a member of his family will not part with the means to acquire it. Also, there is quite a lot more going on here if you watch the play a second time, as i did.

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