October 25, 2021 | by Susan Granger
The Back of Broadway – with Covid Precautions Firmly in Place. Spectators are required not only to bring proof of vaccination, but also photo ID for verification. If you “forget” any of these items, your ticket is quickly refunded and you are invited to come back another time.
After performing this glove (which admittedly slows down the entry process) you are reminded several times to keep your mask in place, covering both your nose and your mouth.
The Lehman Trilogy
Beginning with a brief prologue, set in a plexiglass office in a Manhattan skyscraper, “The Lehman Trilogy” chronicles the fascinating rise and fall of the Lehman brothers, who traveled from Bavaria (Germany) to America to seek their fortune.
Arriving in New York Harbor in 1844, Heyum (Americanized as Henry) Lehmann (Simon Russell Beale), the son of an Orthodox Jewish cattle dealer, settled in Montgomery, Alabama, opening a small general store, selling clothing and fabrics. His ambitious young brothers Emanuel (Adrian Lester) and Mayer (Adam Godley) soon joined him and developed the family business.
Before the Civil War, the Lehmans were cotton brokers. Then they opened a bank, financing the Reconstruction. They capitalized on the railroads, the Panama Canal, and survived the Depression of 1929. They invested in airlines and supported film productions like “King Kong” and “Gone with the Wind”.
Gradually, over the decades, their descendants transformed their businesses from selling cotton to selling financial services, such as secured debt securities. At the same time, their assimilation into the American mainstream increased as their respect for Jewish traditions / customs declined.
Written in Italian by Stefano Massini, translated by Richard Dixon and adapted by Ben Power, it is classic Greek tragedy. Using the old philosophy – “Hubris-Ate-Nemesis” – he details how reckless enthusiasm, ignoring moral rules in an overestimation of one’s abilities and economic power, inevitably leads to punishment and destruction.
What’s extraordinarily brilliant about this storytelling tour de force is director Sam Mendes throwing these three skillful actors into a myriad of roles, using minimal costume changes and few props. In London, they were nominated collectively for Best Actor at the Olivier Awards, the UK equivalent of the Tonys, because I suspect (and hope) they will be here.
Lasting 3 hours and 15 minutes with two intermissions, “The Lehman Trilogy” will be performed until January 2, 2022 at the Nederlander Theater at 208 West 41st Street.
After its introduction to the Public Theater in 2001, Playwright / actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson has finally brought “Lackawanna Blues,” his autobiographical solo play to Broadway, produced by the Manhattan Theater Club.
Performing in front of a depiction of the brick facade of the Lackawanna House, Santiago-Hudson nostalgically remembers growing up in the titular town of upstate New York near Buffalo, which – in the 1950s – was flourishing because of its proximity to the steel industry.
In a series of loosely connected vignettes, the dynamic Santiago-Hudson skillfully plays 25 different characters, including the strong black matriarch, Miss Rachel Crosby, known as Nanny, the protective owner of several guesthouses, a savvy entrepreneur who raised the young Ruben when she realized that his single working mother (a drug addict) was leaving him alone all day.
“Nanny was like the government – if it really worked,” he notes.
In addition, there are the “hikers and wanderers” including Ol ‘Po’ Carl, a black league veteran, whose friend suffers from “liver cockroaches” – Numb Finger Pete, Small Paul, Sweet Tooth Sam and Bill, Miss Rachel’s perpetually unfaithful love partner. Not to mention the pampered resident raccoon that shows up every morning for a homemade breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast.
Santiago-Hudson also plays and sings the harmonica, accompanied by Blues Hall of Fame guitarist Junior Mack, using music composed by future Bill Sims Jr., who was Santiago-Hudson’s original collaborator on the show. .
Kudos to set designer Michael Carnahan, costume designer Karen Perry, lighting designer Jen Schriever and sound designer Darron L. West.
FYI: After its Off-Broadway premiere as a solo memory piece at the Public Theater in 2001, “Lackawanna Blues” was made into an HBO made-for-television movie in 2005, directed by George C. Wolfe and featuring featuring S. Epatha. Emmy-winning Merkerson, with Hill Harper, Terrence Howard and Rosie Perez; it’s still streaming on YouTube.
At the Samuel J. Friedman Theater, 261 W. 47th Street, the 90-minute one-act “Lackawanna Blues” has been extended until Sunday, November 7, 2021.
Susan granger is a Hollywood product. His natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at MGM and Columbia Pictures. Her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced films at MGM
As a child, Susan appeared in films with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O’Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with the highest honors in journalism.
During her adult life, Susan was on radio and television as a presenter and film and theater critic, broadcasting her reviews and articles worldwide, most notably as a video librarian. She has appeared on American Movie Classics and Turner Classic Movies. In 2017, his book 150 timeless films was published by Hannacroix Creek Books.
Its website is www.susangranger.com. Follow her on Twitter @susangranger.