Everything you need to know about 'Leopoldstadt' on Broadway

Learn about the cast, history, and creation of this sweeping drama by Tom Stoppard, which won awards for portraying a 20th-century Jewish family torn apart.

Rebecca VanderKooi
Rebecca VanderKooi

Leopoldstadt has carved a place in history. The show debuted to rave reviews — and a Best New Play Olivier Award — in London's West End, quickly selling out before moving to the Longacre Theatre on Broadway. The play is by the legendary Tom Stoppard, whose career spans nearly seven decades. New York Theatre Guide’s five-star review hails the show as “first-rate” and “a masterwork” — and it’s perhaps his swan song. Now 85 years old, Stoppard indicated Leopoldstadt might be his final work.

The play, directed by Patrick Marber, who also helmed the West End production in 2020, boasts a cast of 38 actors, a rarity for a non-musical show. The powerful story spans 56 years of history and centers around the fictional Merz-Jacobowitz family living in Vienna. The play delves into the profound impact the Holocaust and anti-Semitism have on the family as generations go by.

Before heading to the Longacre to experience this moving production, read about its history, previous productions, creator, and more.

What is Leopoldstadt about?

Leopoldstadt follows multiple generations of the fictional Jewish Merz-Jacobowitz family in Vienna in the 20th century. The play showcases not only their everyday family dynamics but also the devastating impact of World War II. The increasing threat of a Nazi invasion fractures their family and makes everyone, even the ones who consider themselves Austrian above all, face their Jewish heritage.

Each of the five acts takes place in a separate year: 1899, 1900, 1924, 1938, and finally, 1955. In the final act, the remaining family members come together from across the world to the family home to recollect their painful and fond memories.

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Where is Leopoldstadt playing?

Leopoldstadt on Broadway plays at the Longacre Theatre at 220 W 48th St. between Eighth Avenue and Broadway. The theatre opened in 1913 and was named after Longacre Square, now Times Square. Hit shows including The Lark, Ain’t Misbehavin’, and Of Mice and Men have all played at the venue.

How long is Leopoldstadt?

Leopoldstadt is 2 hours and 10 minutes long with no intermission. This falls into the average Broadway show length, between 90 minutes and 3 hours.

What days is Leopoldstadt playing?

Leopoldstadt typically plays Tuesday through Sunday with no performances on Mondays. Wednesdays and Saturdays have both a matinee and evening show, and Sundays have a matinee only. For an up-to-date weekly schedule, visit the Leopoldstadt page.

When did Leopoldstadt premiere?

Leopoldstadt is a relatively new play, premiering in February 2020 at Wyndham’s Theatre in London. Its run there was brief but was the start of great success for Leopoldstadt. Learn more about the history of Leopoldstadt’s creation and productions below.

  • 1993: One of Stoppard’s relatives of Czech descent contacts the playwright and tells him of his Jewish heritage. This encounter inspired Stoppard to write Leopoldstadt.
  • 2020: Leopoldstadt premieres in London in February. The show shut down a month later due to the pandemic but reopened in August 2021.
  • 2022: Leopoldstadt premieres on Broadway. Initially scheduled for a four-month limited engagement, the production received critical and audience acclaim and extended its run multiple times.

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Who wrote Leopoldstadt?

Leopoldstadt is by Tom Stoppard, whose legendary playwriting career began in 1953. Stoppard has written many notable works, including the 1998 Oscar-winning screenplay for Shakespeare in Love and the plays Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Invention of Love, and Night and Day. His work has earned him six Tony Awards (three are for the same play, Parts 1-3 of The Coast of Utopia).

Stoppard has created plays for the stage, radio, and television alongside film and television adaptations of plays and books. He has also worked as a journalist and even written a novel, Lord Malquist and Mr Moon.

Leopoldstadt cast and characters

One thing that makes Leopoldstadt unique is that there aren’t any leading characters. The main “character” is the whole Merz-Jacobowitz family, which contains dozens of relatives who come and go throughout the play. The story covers multiple generations of the family over 56 years, and some actors take on various roles as the play goes on, playing an older character in the first half and their son or daughter in the second.

There are 38 people in the cast, three of whom reprise their roles from the London production: Jenna Augen as Rosa Kloster, Aaron Neil as Ernst Kloster, and Faye Castelow as Gretl Merz.

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What awards has Leopoldstadt won?

While the 2022 Leopoldstadt Broadway production hasn’t won any awards yet, its sellout West End debut won two Olivier Awards: Best New Play and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Adrian Scarborough as Hermann Merz.

Additionally, Leopoldstadt received critical acclaim on both sides of the pond. New York Theatre Guide’s five-star review reads, “The playwright declares his own heritage in first-rate, epic, and urgent fashion, seemingly atoning for lost time.”

Another five-star review on London Theatre reads, “It's nothing less than an epic portrait… This is a powerful, important new play from one of our greatest living playwrights.”

Major productions of Leopoldstadt

Leopoldstadt has had a few notable productions and screenings, as the London stage production was filmed and shown in cinemas. Learn more about all the major productions of Leopoldstadt thus far.

  • 2020 London premiere: Leopoldstadt debuted in February 2020 at Wyndham’s Theatre in London, winning two Olivier Awards, including Best New Play. The play's second performance occurred on January 27, Holocaust Memorial Day, and every audience member received a memorial candle.
  • 2022 cinema screening: Numerous U.K. and international cinemas showed a National Theatre Live recording of the play on January 27, 2022.
  • 2022 Broadway premiere: The show began performances in New York at the Longacre Theatre in September 2022. Originally scheduled to run through January 2023, the run was extended through July.

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Fun facts about Leopoldstadt

Learn more about Stoppard and the inspiration behind Leopoldstadt with these facts that show why the play is one for the history books.

  • In 1997, Queen Elizabeth II knighted Stoppard for his contributions to theatre.
  • This show is deeply personal to Stoppard, whose grandparents died in concentration camps. He only learned this from a Czech relative when Stoppard was in his 50s, inspiring him to write Leopoldstadt. Stoppard has said, “Quite a lot of it is personal to me, but I made it about a Viennese family so that it wouldn't seem to be about me."
  • Leopoldstadt's title comes from the historically Jewish district in Vienna of the same name.
  • Leo, a character in the play's final scene, is a loose stand-in for Stoppard. The character is an Englishman who doesn’t learn about his Jewish ancestry for decades.

How to get Leopoldstadt tickets

This impactful and award-winning show has been such a hit that its Broadway run has extended. Experience this moving historical tragedy by one of the most celebrated playwrights alive today, and see Leopoldstadt before the Broadway run is just a memory.

Photo credit: Leopoldstadt on Broadway. (Photos by Joan Marcus)

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