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Five things you might not know about The Lehman Trilogy

Kitty Underwood

By Kitty Underwood First Published 27 September 2022, Last Updated 15 November 2022

The Lehman Trilogy returns to London! Opening at the Gillian Lynne Theatre this January, the production wowed British audiences when it opened in 2018 and has been delighting Broadway (and clearly the Tony Award panellists!) over the last few years. We’re sure you’ve heard of it, but how much do you actually know about the award-winning play and it’s incredible staging? Check out these five top facts you might not know about The Lehman Trilogy that might just pique your interest!

1. It’s directed by a James Bond director!

The Lehman Trilogy is directed by film and theatre innovator Sam Mendes. He’s known for directing James Bond blockbusters Skyfall and Spectre as well as 1917, Jarhead and The Kite Runner, but he’s also got a foot firmly in the theatre world. Sam served as the Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse for 10 years, and has directed some huge names on the stage, including Alan Cumming, Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Helen McCrory and Mark Strong.

As well as bringing musical classics to the West End including Cabaret, Oliver! and Gypsy, he’s also known as a drama heavy-hitter, winning Olivier and Tony Awards for his direction of The Ferryman as well as an Olivier nomination and a Tony win for The Lehman Trilogy itself.

Sam Mendes backstage at the 2018 Olivier Awards with Patti LuPoneSam Mendes backstage at the 2018 Olivier Awards with Patti LuPone

2. There are only three actors in it

Despite taking place over multiple generations of the same family, the Lehman Trilogy only has three actors in it!

The actors each play one of the original Lehman brothers and then multirole and play their sons and grandsons as the story unfolds. The brothers were originally played by Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles; all three were jointly nominated for Best Actor at the 2019 Olivier Awards, as their performances simply couldn’t be separated! Casting has yet to be announced for this returning production, but we’re waiting with baited breath to see who’ll take these roles on next.

3. Set Designer Es Devlin has won Emmys, Oliviers and Tonys!

Artist and stage designer Es Devlin has worked with some huge names across art, music and culture, often working with light and video to create impressive sculptural sets for concerts and theatre as well as art installations and interactive exhibits. She won Emmys for her design of the 2022 Superbowl half-time show with Dr Dre, Kendrick Lamar and Eminem as well as for Adele’s One Night Only concert at the Griffith Observatory, and even designed the Olympic closing ceremony in London in 2012 and opening ceremony in Rio in 2016.

She’s done extensive set design work for UK theatres, including the Bush Theatre, National Theatre and Royal Opera House and even designed the set for our very own Olivier Awards! Her cinematic set for The Lehman Trilogy earned her not only an Olivier nomination but a Tony Award win earlier this year.

The set of the Lehman Trilogy featuring the original Broadway cast. Photo by Nicholas Calcott.

4. It’s based on a true – but little known – story

Most people may have heard of the Lehman Brothers in passing, knowing the name only as a company that was part of the 2008 financial crash! But the play itself is about the actual Lehman family – three immigrant brothers who set off to make their mark in America. Telling a story in three parts all in one night, we follow the family over several generations through their successes, crashes and the aftermaths. It’s a epic tale about immigration, family and the shaping of American history.

5. It was originally written in Italian

The Lehman Trilogy was originally written by Stefano Massini, titled ‘Qualcosa Sui Lehman’, which translates to ‘Something About Lehman’. It played in Saint-Étienne in a French translation and in the original Italian in Milan before Ben Power’s adaptation made its debut at the National Theatre in 2018! Since then, the British production has been staged at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, the Piccadilly Theatre in the West End, the Nederlander Theatre on Broadway (where it won a whopping 5 Tony Awards, including Best Play!) and the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. Now, it returns to the UK for a brand new run at the Gillian Lynne Theatre from January next year.

Stefano Massini and Ben Power receive the Best Play Award at the Tony Awards 2022. Photo by Getty for Tony Awards Productions.

All this got you interested? You can grab tickets right here!

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