Danielle Brooks Tests Positive for COVID, Will Sit Out of Broadway’s The Piano Lesson for a Week

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 13: Danielle Brooks during the opening night curtain call for the revival of August Wilson’s

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Danielle Brooks is stepping away from the piano for a week.

The actress, 33, announced on Saturday that she’ll be taking a break from her role as Berniece in Broadway’s The Piano Lesson after testing positive for COVID-19, or as she called it, having a run-in with the “COVID sample.”

She started in the production, which is directed by Tony nominee LaTanya Richardson Jackson and comes from the mind of playwright August Wilson, on Thursday during opening night.

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“My body has spoken and has forced me to Go Lay Down,” Brooks wrote Saturday on Instagram after missing Friday’s performance. “Yes the Covid Monster got me. Even though masks are not required in theaters I would encourage you to still take precautions and wear your mask. Can’t wait to return stronger and better than ever.”

While Brooks is set to be out for a week, the role of Berniece will be taken over by understudy Shirine Babb, who has previously performed in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Macbeth.

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Brooks share the news with a photo of herself standing side-by-side with costars Samuel L. Jackson and John David Washington, calling that particular moment “one of the highlights of my career.” Using the hashtag “#understudiesrock,” Brooks wrote that the role is a “daily confirmation that I am in my purpose.” But sometimes, as she explained, “your purpose isn’t about you.”

“I am so happy for [Babb] making her debut as Berniece until Oct. 23rd,” Brooks wrote.

In her own Instagram clip reacting to the news of her taking on the role of Berniece, Babb wrote “OMG!! I’M On TONIGHT.” Babb revealed in the clip, which was filmed as she walked around New York City, that she had just gotten the call.

“Alright people, I’m on tonight,” she told her followers. “So I don’t know if you can get a ticket, but your girl’s going to do it.”

Guests at Friday night’s performance were given a slip alerting them to the casting change, along with their Playbills. Babb’s Instagram Story the following day was filled with friends who seemed equally excited for her special moment.

According to a plot summary on the play’s website, The Piano Lesson follows a “battle brewing in the Charles household. At the center lies the family’s prized heirloom piano. On one side, a brother plans to build the family fortune by selling it. On the other, a sister will go to any length to keep it and preserve the family history. Only their uncle stands in between. But even he can’t hold back the ghosts of the past.”

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Back in August, Brooks and her costars could be seen in exclusive first-look photos from The Piano Lesson‘s first day of rehearsals, held at the New 42nd Street Studios in Times Square. One shot in particular showed Brooks snapping a selfie with both Washington and Samuel.

“I thank god for this day,” LaTanya, 72, said, addressing the group in a video from August. “Finally. All of you who have been on this journey, waiting, waiting, putting your businesses to the side, I can’t thank you enough. I am ready, you are ready, and we’re going to throw down.”

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