With humor, drama, and deeply religious intonations, THE LEHMAN TRILOGY tells the story of the Lehman Brothers Company that started in 1844 and ran until it abruptly closed in 2008.
Highlighted by three amazing actors with strong ties to Chicago theatre, they play multiple roles, rotating in and off the stage as one generation dies out and another steps in to replace them.
The actors move around the stage using a single complex background set filled with TVs, computers, boxes, and steps. They use these props to sit, stand and orate. The enormous size of the set mimics the size of the empire they built. Old newsclips provide “time” and “place” for the scenarios.
Written by Stefano Massini and Ben Powers , THE LEHMAN TRILOGY won the 2022 Tony Award for best play. It’s produced by the TimeLine Company in conjunction with Broadway in Chicago.
Co-directed by Nick Bowling and Vanessa Stalling, THE LEHMAN TRILOGY is now playing at Broadway in Chicago’s Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut in Chicago.
Mitchell J. Fain portrays Henry Lehman, who comes from Bavaria bringing with his old-world Jewish traditions. TimeLine Company Member Anish Jethmalani portrays brother Emanuel Lehman and Joey Slotnick plays the often put-upon youngest brother, Mayer.
Told in three parts over one evening with two intermissions, THE LEHMAN TRILOGY begins on a cold September morning in 1844, as a young Jewish man from Bavaria stands on a New York dockside dreaming of a new life in the new world.
He is soon joined by his two brothers, and an American epic begins.
First, the brothers settle in Montgomery, Alabama, where they set up a successful dry goods store selling cotton. They learn the “American way” of doing business as storekeepers, wholesale merchants and conniving middlemen.
Then, Lehman Brothers slowly moves into banking in New York as capital investors, industrialists and, mortage brokers. Eventually, there were no more descendants to run the family business and Lehman Brothers was run by outsiders. 163 years later, the firm collapses into bankruptcy due to the mortgage industry failures, triggering the largest financial crisis in history.
If the story sounds familiar it’s because the same story was once dramatized in the 2011 movie, “Too Big To Fail.”
Kudos to Scenic Designer Collette Pollard for her amazing, enormous set, which emphasizes the size of the Lehman Brothers empire. Recognition should also be given to dramaturgs Carol Ann Tan and DeRon Williams as well as Jewish Studies Consultant Pamela S. Nadell for her authenticity in Jewish customs.
The audience sees how subsequent generations grew less religious in their observance, primarily through mourning rituals.
THE LEHMAN TRILOGY is the story of American capitalism as seen through the eyes of one family. But it belongs to all of us.
For tickets, go to www.broadwayinchicago.com or timelinetheatre.com.
ONLINE DISCUSSION EVENTS
TimeLine is planning three online discussion events during the run of THE LEHMAN TRILOGY, featuring a variety of special guests and topics for insight into the art and themes of the play. Discussions are scheduled for Sunday, October 8 at 11:00 a.m. (CDT), Sunday, October 15 at 6:00 p.m. (CDT), and Monday, October 23 at 7:00 p.m. Attendance at all discussions is FREE and open to all, but reservations may be required. For event details and information about how to attend, visit www.timelinetheatre.com/lehman-lobby.
For more information, visit timelinetheatre.com or Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (@TimeLineTheatre).