(Via Michelle Farabaugh, BBB, Adrian Bryan-Brown; Photo: The Original West End Company of Leopoldstadt (Credit: Marc Brenner)




Tom Stoppard’s masterpiece.


The Independent

Opening on Broadway

Sunday, October 2, 2022


Performances Begin Wednesday, September 14

at the Longacre Theatre

In a Limited Engagement


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“A momentous new play.”

Financial Times


“Tom Stoppard’s new masterwork.”

Evening Standard


“There is something momentous about Leopoldstadt.

It’s a grand, contemplative historical sweep across six decades.”

The Guardian

Sonia Friedman ProductionsRoy Furman, and Lorne Michaels have announced that Tom Stoppard’s Olivier Award-winning Best New Play, Leopoldstadt, directed by two-time Tony Award nominee Patrick Marber, will open on Broadway in a limited engagement at the Longacre Theatre (220 West 48th Street) this fall. Performances will begin Wednesday, September 14, 2022 ahead of a Sunday, October 2, 2022 opening night.

Perhaps the most personal play of Stoppard’s unmatched career, Leopoldstadt opened in London’s West End to rave critical acclaim on January 25, 2020. A planned extension due to overwhelming demand was curtailed due to the COVID-19 lockdown seven weeks later. In late 2021, the play returned for a further 12-week engagement. Both runs completely sold out and Leopoldstadt received the Olivier Award for Best New Play in October 2020.

Leopoldstadt will mark Tom Stoppard’s 19th play on Broadway since his groundbreaking Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead opened 55 years ago. Stoppard has won four Best Play Tony Awards, more than any other playwright in history.

Casting for Leopoldstadt will be announced at a later date.

Set in Vienna, Leopoldstadt takes its title from the Jewish quarter. This passionate drama of love and endurance begins in the last days of 1899 and follows one extended family deep into the heart of the 20th Century. Full of his customary wit and beauty, Tom Stoppard’s late work spans fifty years of time over two hours. The Financial Times said, “This is a momentous new play. Tom Stoppard has reached back into his own family history to craft a work that is both epic and intimate; that is profoundly personal, but which concerns us all.” With a cast of 38 and direction by Patrick MarberLeopoldstadt is a “magnificent masterpiece” (The Independent) that must not be missed.

Sonia Friedman said, “Any new Stoppard play is something to treasure, but Leopoldstadt is truly a gift and our greatest living playwright’s most intensely personal piece. Leopoldstadt is a passionate drama of enduring love and familial bonds that asks us to bear witness to our pasts, no matter how painful that might be.

I so look forward to bringing Patrick Marber’s epic and truly extraordinary production to North America at a moment when it feels more necessary than ever.”

Patrick Marber said: “It was my great pleasure to direct a revival of Tom’s early play Travesties on Broadway in 2018. At the time he mentioned that he was just beginning to write something new. And here it is, his mighty Leopoldstadt.

I’ve loved Tom’s plays since boyhood. I studied his work at university, he inspired me as a fledgling playwright. To be the director of his new play is one heck of an honour.  

We are so thrilled to be bringing this moving and beautiful play to life once more.”

Leopoldstadt’s creative team includes scenic design by Tony Award winner Richard Hudson (The Lion KingLa Bête), costume design by Brigitte Reiffenstuel, lighting design by three-time Tony Award winner Neil Austin (Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildCompanyTravesties), sound and original music by Tony Award winner Adam Cork (RedTravesties), video design by Isaac Madge, and movement by Emily Jane Boyle. Casting is by Jim Carnahan and Maureen Kelleher, and UK casting is by Amy Ball CDG.


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Internationally award-winning writer TOM STOPPARD’s plays include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Real Inspector Hound, After Magritte, Jumpers, New Found Land, Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth, Travesties, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (a play for actors and orchestra written with André Previn), Night and Day, The Real Thing, Hapgood, Arcadia, Indian Ink, The Invention of Love, The Coast of UtopiaRock ‘n’ Roll and The Hard Problem. His radio plays include Albert’s Bridge, Artist Descending a Staircase, The Dog It Was That Died, If You’re Glad I’ll Be Frank, and most recently, his dramatic imagining of Pink Floyd’s Darkside of the MoonDarkside. Stoppard is also a writer for film and television and received the Academy Award for the screenplay of Shakespeare in Love.

PATRICK MARBER was born in London in 1964. He is a playwright, screenwriter and director. He directed his own play Closer on Broadway (Music Box) in 1999 and then Tom Stoppard’s Travesties in 2018 (Roundabout/American Airlines). These productions received Tony nominations for Best Play, Best Director and Best Revival. Directing credits of his own work include Dealer’s Choice, Closer, Howard Katz, Three days in the Country at the National Theatre, After Miss Julie for BBC TV and Don Juan in Soho at Wyndham’s Theatre.  Other directing credits include The Room as part of the Pinter at the Pinter Season, Venus In Fur at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, The Caretaker at the Comedy Theatre, Blue Remembered Hills at the National Theatre, ‘1953’ at the Almeida and The Old Neighborhood at the Royal Court Theatre. Marber’s plays, which have received multiple awards both in the West End and on Broadway, also include The Red Lion and versions of Hedda Gabler and Exit The King. He received an Academy Award nomination for his screenplay Notes on a Scandal.  

SONIA FRIEDMAN PRODUCTIONS is an international production company responsible for some of the most successful theatre productions in recent years. Since 1990, Sonia Friedman OBE has developed, initiated and produced over 180 new productions and won a combined 58 Oliviers, 34 Tonys and 3 BAFTAs. Current productions include: The Book of Mormon, West End and UK & Europe tour, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, London, New York, Melbourne, San Francisco, Toronto, Tokyo and Hamburg, Mean Girls US tour; To Kill a Mockingbird, London; Jerusalem, London; Oklahoma! London; Funny Girl, New York and Dreamgirls UK tour. Forthcoming productions / co-productions include: Hamlet, New York; Oresteia, New York; Merrily We Roll Along, New York; The Doctor, UK tour and London and The Piano Lesson, New York. In New York SFP has produced previously three Tom Stoppard plays, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Arcadia and Travesties. Other notable Broadway shows include Boeing-Boeing, Jerusalem, Farinelli and the King and King Richard the Third/Twelfe Night, all with Mark Rylance, as well as The SeagullA Little Night Music, The Norman Conquests, La Cage aux Folles, The River, Mean Girls, The Ferryman and The


Reagan’s Cowboys is something of a memoir of Roberts’s career with the 40th president, and as such, it’s a time machine back to the days of typewriters, hard-line telephones, and Marlboro cigarettes. .. Be grateful to Roberts for giving us history as it actually happened, uncensored and un-politically corrected. … [He] gives us glimpses of a huge cast of characters in Reaganworld.”―James P. Pinkerton, Breitbart  

(View on Amazon)


(Ammar Kalia’s article appeared in the Guardian, 5/31; via Pam Green;  Photo:  Arinzé Kene in Get Up Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical and Shirley Henderson with Adam James in Girl from the North Country. Composite: Tristram Kenton.)

Olivier award-winner Simon Hale on the thrill of orchestrating two legends’ tracks on Get Up, Stand Up! and Girl from the North Country

It’s not often you get the green light from Bob Dylan to run riot with his songs. But for composer Simon Hale and playwright Conor McPherson, a call from the Old Vic theatre in 2017 was just that: an invitation to rework Dylan’s songbook into a musical, with the blessing of free rein from the artist.

The ensuing show, Girl from the North Country, opened that year to rave reviews for its deft transformation of 19 of Dylan’s journeying songs into a story set in 1930s Minnesota. Following runs in the West End and on Broadway, the show is now embarking on a UK tour and Hale is back in the rehearsal room.

“This is an unusual piece. We don’t deliver songs in the way that musical theatre generally does,” he says. “We don’t play for applause, we go from one song to another and sometimes they drift off as something else happens. I worried about representing such an iconic songbook this way but Dylan followed his instinct and so I did the same.”

Hale, 58, has spent most of his career traversing genres. Cutting his teeth as a touring keyboard player for Seal in the early 90s, he went on to arrange string sections for early Björk and Jamiroquai albums. He has since arranged Sam Smith’s 2015 Bond theme, Writing’s on the Wall, and recorded with George Michael and Céline Dion. But it was a call to write orchestrations for a US production of Spring Awakening in 2006 that established a lasting relationship with the theatre.

“Collaboration is very visceral in theatre and that’s what has kept me coming back,” he says. “Everyone’s in the same room, whereas making a record or film, you’re in and out in a few hours and you don’t have the same human connection.”

The role of an orchestrator might facilitate human connection but it can also be a tricky mediation. Typically, you work with existing songs or demos that need the addition of extra instrumentation. “You have to create a new character in that story, one that has to fit seamlessly but that also adds to the essence of the song, so that when it’s taken away it’s missed,” Hale says. “It’s a challenge but you have to trust yourself, otherwise you get swallowed up in trying to copy other people’s visions.”

Hale, who realised as a child that he had perfect pitch, initially composes his music in his head before he commits pencil to paper. “I’m always thinking in my own time, visualising the music,” he says. “The first time anyone ever hears what I’ve done is in the recording session. There is a fear in anticipating that first note being played but the shock of those black and white dots being turned into sound never gets old. The sense of danger is good.”

Trusting that connection between his mind’s eye and the performers bringing his work to life has paid off. In April, Hale won an Olivier award for his orchestration of another Bob’s songbook for Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical, directed by Clint Dyer. The two projects were markedly different. “Girl from the North Country is set in a period where the composer of our show wasn’t born, so we’re entirely reimagining the music, whereas in Get Up, Stand Up! we’re trying to faithfully represent the brilliance of what Bob Marley did in his life,” he says. Working with arranger Phil Bateman, Hale’s role was to take his selections of Marley’s songs and realise them with the band. “It’s all about detail – providing that sense of rhythm and melody that means any talented musician can turn it into exactly what we’re trying to convey, night after night,” he says.

(Read more)


(Chris McCormack’s article appeared in Irish Times, 6/6/22; Photo: Louis Lovett weighs up the challenge of The Tin Soldier: `What a child knows is their own world. So we like to bring in aspects of things they don’t know.’ Photograph: Ruth Gilligan.)

`Every child arrives hard-wired to imagine, to pick up an object and play with it’

Looking back on the past decade, it is tempting to ask Louis Lovett, an actor dedicated to making plays for young audiences, why he started getting spooky.

Cast your mind back to 2010′s adventure fantasy The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly, and you’ll remember Lovett arriving colourful and light-hearted, in a striped swimsuit, as a young girl on a mission to save her family. You could easily divide the plays made by his company Theatre Lovett into two camps, one characterised by such narratives that are original and consoling. The other camp, containing adaptations of fairy tales and popular stories, is boldly sinister.

“Very often with theatre for young audiences, the rainbow colours and the brightness are what you come to expect. That wasn’t our thing. We went towards those darker colours,” says Lovett. Ahead of his new play, The Tin Soldier, a version of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, he shares his experiences of what happens when you make children’s stories dark.

For instance, a few years ago Theatre Lovett toured the chilling play A Feast of Bones – a tonal turning point for the company. During one post-show discussion, young members of the audience voiced their strong disagreement with the ending. The play had served up something that was fascinatingly morbid and difficult to resist: the possibility of revenge.

A retelling of the folk tale Henny Penny, A Feast of Bones found something very serious in that story of a chicken who, believing the world is ending, recruits a group of animals to alert the king, only for her to lead them into the deathly clutches of a fox. The foolishness and violence held historical echoes for Lovett. “I saw a parallel with the march towards war in 1914, and with this mob mentality. It was an obsessive drive based on an idiotic assumption of something falling on someone’s head,” he says.

He gave the idea to playwright Frances Kay, who set the narrative in wartime France, in a dimly lit cafe where folk musicians play songs containing subtly murderous lyrics. Henny Penny is now disguised as a waitress, and is wracked by survivor’s guilt after the death of her friends. Her customer is the fox, a war profiteer who gains from other people’s suffering. Henny Penny brings plates in and out of the kitchen, and, with each course, there are hints that the fox, unbeknown to himself, is being served his own family to eat.

Atmospheres of menace

Lovett has a talent for creating atmospheres of menace, but what if it sways children to mistake the hero for an avenger? “One of the key elements of these plays is the responsibility you have for young audiences. You can’t go around saying vengeance is a dish best served cold,” he says. After Henny Penny leads the fox to the horrifying conclusion that he devoured his own loved ones, she reveals that it has all been a masquerade, and reunites him with his family. The fox has learned the horror of his actions but that wasn’t enough for Lovett’s audience. “The children wished she didn’t let him off the hook,” he says. They wanted blood.

That puts Lovett in a complex position, where the demands of being an artist often resembles the responsibility of an adult setting an example for young people. Since A Feast of Bones, there haven’t been as many instructive lessons about how to contemplate the consequences of someone’s actions. Instead, he went down the path of presenting uneasily reconciled, real-life issues in ways that were easily recognisable.

(Read more)


(Chris Wiegand, 5/31, the Guardian; Photo: of Neda Nezhdana,

Neda Nezhdana’s urgent exploration of war is a collaboration with the Theatre of Playwrights in Kyiv. Otvetka had its premiere in Ukraine weeks after Russia invaded. Kate Vostrikova performs the tale of a pregnant woman in a study of war’s psychological impact.

Presented by Popdipingdi Productions in association with the Finborough and available on YouTube. (Read more)



(via Radio Free Europe, 5/31)

It’s billed as an escape from anxiety for kids who have been evacuated from war-torn parts of Ukraine. The Odesa Youth Theater is staging special performances in bomb shelters. The play is also topical: It tells the story of how people unite to drive out a stranger who is occupying someone’s home. Originally published at –…


The words and wisdom of Constantin Stanislavski:

To arouse a desire to create is difficult; to kill that desire is extremely easy. If I interfere with my own work, it is my own affair, but what right have I to hold up the work of a whole group? The actor, no less than the soldier, must be subject to iron discipline. (AP)


(Arifa Akbar’s aicle appeared in the Guardian, 5/26; via Pam Green; Photo: A terrible, startling drama … Eileen Walsh (Clytemnestra) and David Walmsley (Agamemnon) in Girl on an Altar. Photograph: Peter Searle.)

Kiln theatre, London
Family dynamics and toxic masculinity are explored in Marina Carr’s riveting version of the story of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra

The story of Clytemnestra is not quite as we know it from the blood-drenched texts of ancient Greek tragedy here. In those, she is a powerful figure, plotting a murderous revenge on her husband, Agamemnon, for sacrificing their daughter.

In Marina Carr’s audacious version, the power lies squarely with Agamemnon, who consents to the ritual killing of their 10-year-old, Iphigenia, for his advancement in the war against Troy. Yet Clytemnestra is certainly not voiceless in this co-production with the Abbey theatre in Dublin.

Carr tells the story of Clytemnestra (Eileen Walsh) and Agamemnon (David Walmsley) through a series of internal monologues with revisions that make us see the shocks of this story afresh. Innovatively directed by Annabelle Comyn, the production brings a deadly coolness to the searing revelations – unlike the frenzy we saw in Ivo van Hove’s recent retelling of the same story in Age of Rage. The characters here feel larger than life as opposed to in van Hove’s version, where the humans seemed so small and insignificant amid the large-scale set.

It is a counterintuitive venture with riveting results for the most part. A few moments feel static but these are brief and there is a terrible, startling drama inside the stillness. Carr’s story is so intimate in its telling, with so many off-stage scenes painted in words, that it verges on novelistic and makes it necessary for us to imagine much of what it is described. The lighting and sound take on a stupendous force, with an interplay of black and white as doors open suddenly and shafts of light reveal new figures on stage (lighting design by Amy Mae; video design by Will Duke). The sound of lapping waves or cawing birds is crisp and beautiful (composition and sound design by Philip Stewart). With Tom Piper’s spare set design, the combined effect is astonishingly atmospheric.

The script itself has an epic quality – Homeric in its vivid detail and oral splendour – but it is at heart a pointed study of a marriage, profoundly unequal in its power. The bed on stage drives home the point that this story is about marriage, love, sex and childbirth.

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(Chris Wiegand’s article appeared in the Guardian, 5/25; Photo:  The instrument of the human body … James Thierrée in Room. Credit: Richard Haughton.)

The circus star turns singer in his new show, Room, which is designed to embrace chaos. He talks about the mystery of theatre and his movie missions

In James Thierrée’s beguiling stage shows, the furniture has a life of its own: brasserie chairs duet with their sitters and velvet sofas gobble people up. So it is a little disconcerting to share a corner table in a Parisian cafe with this ringleader of the unexpected who is swivelling around in his seat. But Thierrée is just on the lookout for his morning coffee, he explains, swinging back with a raspy laugh.

Thierrée has the air of an inventor with his white jacket, round specs and floppy fringe of salt and pepper curls. His latest concoction is Room, which is on a European tour winding its way to the Edinburgh international festival (EIF) in August. By then, Thierrée explains, his Room will have been somewhat rearranged. “I never want them to be bored,” he says of the musicians and dancers who perform its loose-limbed melee of skits and tricks in a huge salon that is constructed before us on stage then promptly blown apart. “Every afternoon we switch a piece of music. I warned everyone it’s going to be moving all the time.” He assumes the roles of architect and director in the story, attempting to marshal his surroundings but constantly upended by them.

Thierrée’s visually arresting shows – including past EIF productions Tabac Rouge and The Toad Knew – usually come with threadbare plots. This time, the connection between musical instruments and the instrument of the human body was his starting point for an exploration of “the whim of pleasure and music and nonsense”. His pick ’n’ mix collection of performers arrived for rehearsals in 2020 only to return home the following day because of rising Covid cases. Now, he hopes the piece will chime with pandemic-weary audiences who want to let go a little – although the single-room setting is bound to prompt flashbacks to lockdown. “Those bloody walls!” he groans, remembering his spell of isolation.

In the absence of plot, he likes to give the audience a tempo. “We can follow a beat,” he says, explaining that we are not just creatures of intellect but of “rhythm and unconscious yearnings”. If there is a philosophy to the show, he says, it is to “embrace chaos”. Did he give his performers similar advice for the creation process? “I try to tell them it should be about their head, too. If all I do is direct my dream, it’s kind of a lonely process. I need their madness.” The production has become a cultural exchange of sorts: the musicians roam around the stage, guided by Thierrée, while he is singing on stage for the first time.

(Read more)