11 user 2 critic

The Piano Lesson (1995)

An African-American family struggles to retain their heritage, in the form of a history told in the carvings on the family piano. Boy Willie wants to sell the piano and use the money to buy farmland, but sister Berniece won't part with it.


Lloyd Richards


August Wilson (play), August Wilson (teleplay)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 4 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles S. Dutton ... Boy Willie (as Charles Dutton)
Alfre Woodard ... Berniece Charles
Carl Gordon ... Doaker
Tommy Hollis ... Avery
Lou Myers ... Wining Boy
Courtney B. Vance ... Lymon
Zelda Harris ... Maretha
Rosalyn Coleman ... Grace
Tommy Lafitte Tommy Lafitte ... Ace
Lynne Innerst Lynne Innerst ... Miss Ophelia
Harold Surratt Harold Surratt ... Papa Willie Boy
Elva Branson Elva Branson ... Mama Berniece
Tim Hartman Tim Hartman ... Sutter
Ben Tatar Ben Tatar ... Watermelon Man
Alice Eisner 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 »

Did You Know?


Charles S. Dutton was nominated for the 1990 Tony Award (New York City) for Actor in a Drama for "The Piano Lesson" for the role of Boy Willie and recreated it in this 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 »

User Reviews

Simple and nice
28 August 2001 | by JKranjskiSee all my reviews

I liked the movie and its music. The best scene is the one when they sing about Alberta. I also think that actors realisticaly played the rolls of old time peoples way of communication. I love that home feeling in the Berinces house.

It also true that the story is simple and looks more like the gossip, that someone would tell you about people seeing a ghost.

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Release Date:

5 February 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

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

Filming Locations:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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