This season, for the first time on Broadway, Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” is led by a Black family.
In the latest episode of “The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal,” Wendell Pierce, who stars as Willy Loman in the revival at the Hudson Theatre through Jan. 15, 2023, talks to Paul Wontorek about the production and his journey with the role.
Wontorek asked Pierce about the impact of having a Black family at the center of a story about the struggles of chasing the American Dream — a story that, until now, only ever featured white actors when staged on Broadway.
“It is absolutely instrumental to the impact that it’s having on people,” Pierce said. “[The cast] amplifies the themes of the material even more.” The choice heightens the conflicts that his character faces because of the micro and macro aggressions and general racial tension that Black families experienced in 1949, the year in which the show is set.
The chance to embody these challenges isn’t something Pierce shied away from. He jumped to tackle the role when he received the offer.
“Every night I feel as though I’m at the base camp of Mount Everest looking up, and at the end of the evening, I have the summit. It challenges me; every part of my being,” he said.
In taking on the role, Pierce said he thinks about those who have come before him every night. He told Wontorek he feels “personally connected” to the other five men who regularly stepped into Willy Loman’s shoes on Broadway because they, too, know the feeling before the curtain rises and the action begins.
The only difference is that Pierce now has the distinction of being the first and only Black man to play Loman on Broadway.
“The reason you do revivals is to bring a new interpretation. So the African-American experience, along with a vital and visceral Willy who fights to the end … I think are the two things I’m proudest of in our interpretation.”
Viewers of “The Broadway Show” can also catch interviews with Sutton Foster, currently on Broadway as Marian Paroo in “The Music Man” as well as Myles Frost, the Tony Award-winning star of the Michael Jackson bio-musical, “MJ.” Red carpet moments from the opening night of the new musical “KPOP” are also featured. For those looking for Broadway-related concerts and events in and around New York City, Fadal also provides options that feature Main Stem favorites.
“The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal” airs on weekends. Check your local listings for air time and channel.