Tom Stoppard's Olivier-winning play, Leopoldstadt, is playing a limited Broadway engagement at the Longacre Theatre, earning six Tony Award nominations including Best Play. Get Leopoldstadt tickets on New York Theatre Guide. Tickets to Leopoldstadt on Broadway are on sale now.
The Leopoldstadt play is named for the Jewish quarter of Vienna, Austria. The drama begins at the end of 1899 and ends in 1955, following multiple generations of one Jewish extended family that live through that period. The many family members (there's a 38-person cast, including some original London members and Broadway veterans) in the different generations all have different backgrounds, lived experiences, and depths of faith as Jews. But historical circumstances — including one of the darkest eras of human history — force them all to reckon with their identity. The play is at once a deep dive into Jewish history, a recognition of Jewish people's endurance, and one playwright's deeply personal declaration of his own heritage.
The family in Leopoldstadt is not directly based on Stoppard's own, but the play is loosely based on history he learned at a late stage of his life. The 85-year-old Stoppard only discovered he was fully Jewish in the 1990s, when a Czech relative of his contacted him and taught him about his mother's extended family, many of whom were killed in the Holocaust. This experience inspired Stoppard to write a play centered around Judaism, and critics have called Leopoldstadt his most "personal" and "intimate" work. He has also said Leopoldstadt is likely the last play he will ever write.
A Leopoldstadt review on London Theatre reads: "It is played and staged with a glowing warmth throughout, with lovely and loving ensemble character work on display across the board. This is a powerful, important new play from one of our greatest living playwrights that, should it prove to be his swansong, means he has gone out on a significant high, even as he dramatises a low point on world history."
The show differs in some ways from Stoppard's past plays, 16 of which have appeared on Broadway. Stoppard's shows often jump back and forth in time, but Leopoldstadt moves through time chronologically, making the different generations easier to follow. (Past productions have also included a family tree in the program as a guide.) There's also less showy intellectual banter in Leopoldstadt than his plays usually include, though there is plenty of political theory and historical context to help audiences understand the state of the world the characters are living in.
How long is Leopoldstadt?
Leopoldstadt runs approximately two hours. There is no intermission.
Who is Tom Stoppard?
Tom Stoppard is a British playwright, often regarded as one of the best living playwrights of today. Stoppard made his Broadway debut with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which remains one of his most famous works, in 1967. Between that show and his most recent Broadway production — a revival of the Best Play-winning Travesties in 2018 — his works have won six Best Play Tony Awards. He's also won three Best New Play Olivier Awards for his London premieres, including Leopoldstadt, and he has Oscar, Golden Globe, and BAFTA Awards for writing the screenplay for Shakespeare in Love. In 1997, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his illustrious theatre career.
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