Musical producer

Michigan producer Roy Furman brings Leopoldstadt to the New York scene in September

Some of the actors from Leopoldstadt visited the Neue Galerie to immerse themselves and learn about early 20th century German and Austrian art and design as they prepare for this deeply moving play. (Carrington Spiers)

The drama, which received the Olivier Award (British Tony) in 2020, begins on September 14 and officially opens on October 2 at the Longacre Theatre.

There’s a connection between Michigan and the upcoming Broadway run of Tom Stoppard’s latest play, Leopoldstadtthis title taken from the historical name of a Jewish quarter of Vienna and in consideration of the playwright’s family history linked to the story.

Roy Furman, who married University of Michigan faculty member Marjorie Fisher in 2015 and spends part of the year in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham, is a theater producer who offered to join the British producer Sonia Friedman to bring the play to New York.

The drama, which received the Olivier Award (British Tony) in 2020, begins on September 14 and officially opens on October 2 at the Longacre Theatre. This is not a play about the Holocaust, but the Holocaust enters into the Merz family narrative.

Stoppard’s 19th Broadway play garnered four Best Play Tony Awards, the most awarded to a playwright.

Roy Furman
Roy Furman

“It’s an eternal story that needs to be told, and it’s told beautifully by a master storyteller,” said Furman, a Harvard Law School graduate who practiced law, moved into finance and then into theater production. “It’s just a great game, and I’m very excited about it.

“I saw her in London just before COVID, and went straight to meet the London producer. After some discussion, we agreed that I would team up with her. As third producer, we added Lorne Michaels, creator and executive producer of Saturday Night Live.

The play, which begins in the late 19th century and ends in the mid-20th century, moves from the pogroms of Eastern Europe to the successes of Vienna, where we witness the rise and fall of the Jewish population.

“Although there are no performances on Rosh Hashanah, we believe the major holiday season will be a good time to reveal this story,” said Furman, who attends services at Central Synagogue in New York City, where he has an apartment. in addition to residences in Florida and Michigan.

“It’s an ensemble piece, and the star is really writer Tom Stoppard. It has a cast of 38 including young people. I hope it becomes a staple in New York, and I’m sure it will will last for many months.

A love of theater

Furman rose through the ranks in production, which he defines as three levels he has fulfilled – investors, investors with limited production responsibilities, and investors with many production responsibilities.

“I grew up in Brooklyn in a relatively poor environment, and my escape in life was to go to the movies,” said the producer, who rose through the ranks to become president and president of the Film Society of Lincoln. Center.

“When I was growing up, my mom took me to the theater, and that’s where I learned that you can actually create these worlds. What you learn in theater is you take that scene and do anything with it.

“As I was successful, I went to a lot of shows and got to know the theater world. They would call me and ask me if I wanted to invest in a show, and I was so happy to do.

As Furman’s investments grew, he added his creative voice and people listened. Important for mapping 16 Tony Award-winning plays and musicals, it has been closely linked to Red Mill!, The passer, The purple color and Dear Evan Hansen among many successes with trips to Michigan.

While making arrangements for Leopoldstadtit has seven productions currently on stage in New York.

Among Furman’s responsibilities for the new production are fundraising, budgeting, booking the theater and securing a major New York cast working under the direction of Patrick Marber, also a playwright and screenwriter who has directed the Stoppard screenplay of Disguises in 2018.

Furman’s move to Michigan came after his marriage to Marjorie Fisher, daughter of the late Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher. The couple met in 2014, after losing their first wife to cancer, and they each brought two grown children into their blended families.

“Michigan was a big surprise for me,” Furman said. “I’m not a Midwesterner at all. I didn’t know the philosophy or nature of people until I met Margie and learned how nice these people are.

“I learned that some of my best friends in New York were born in Ohio, Michigan and Iowa. I became a huge Blues fan because Margie is a college professor, and we tend to to attend some of the games that Michigan plays.

“When our friends come to Michigan, they stay with us and we take them to our favorite places, like Greenfield Village, Cranbrook and the Detroit Zoo. I’m a huge baseball fan, and we have a box in Comerica Park, Margie’s dad’s home box, front row behind the dugout. When the game is over, I love Buddy’s Pizza.

As September approaches, Furman reflects on public reactions to Leopoldstadt and his future in the United States.

“We’re selling lots of tickets and keeping the race open,” Furman said. “The need for a tour, I believe, will diminish because of the large cast and because the audience is in New York.”

Details

Leopoldstadt tickets are available online at Download.com or by calling (212) 239-6200.