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Is Tony-Winning ‘Leopoldstadt’ The Last Of A Dying Breed? “I Don’t Know When There’ll Be A Play Like This Again” Due To Broadway Economics, Producer Sonia Friedman Says

While she was ebullient about Leopoldstadt‘s Tony Awards wins, including a crowning one for Best Play, producer Sonia Friedman offered some sobering thoughts about plays of its scale and cost Sunday night.

“Oooh, this is a big conversation,” Friedman said when asked about the challenges of producing a show like Tom Stoppard’s multi-layered look at the persecution of Jews in Poland, with action spanning the years 1899 and 1955. Before mounting Leopoldstadt, Friedman had backed large-scale plays like The Ferryman and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which also struck Tony gold.

“Plays of this scale are under threat right now,” Friedman said, standing onstage in the press room Sunday next to Stoppard, who did not weigh in on the topic. “I don’t know that Broadway will see another play of this scale or breadth in terms of the number of people onstage for a while, until the economics of Broadway can make them more accessible for audiences and cheaper to produce. It’s a very, very expensive landscape right now and the model needs a bit of fixing. So, I don’t know when there’ll be a play like this again.”

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While the play got Stoppard some of the most admiring notices of his august career, turning that into a profitable enterprise is more of an uphill battle than ever. “It’s a very, very, very high risk, no matter how brilliant it is, however great the reviews are, however many people come,” she said. “It’s a tough financial environment at the moment for most shows, but particularly shows that have a cast of 38.”

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Friedman was asked about why she and her fellow producers continued with the show during the lean winter months on Broadway, when the industry was emerging from Covid but had yet to find its footing.

“Just the commitment to keep going,” she said. “There was no strategy. I just wanted the play to be seen by as many people as possible for as long a period as possible.”

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