David Leaveux Choreographs "Jazz in Space" with Jumpers

Tony Awards   David Leaveux Choreographs "Jazz in Space" with Jumpers "My first thought for Jumpers was jazz in space," said David Leveaux, who is nominated for a Tony Award for his direction of the play in question, a philosophical circus of sorts in which playwright Tom Stoppard juggles the groves of academe, the music hall and the universe, among other things.

"That idea started to acquire the momentum of a farce, which Jumpers needs to be," he said. "It's not a philosophical play, it's a farce." This is not Leveaux's first Tony nomination (it's his fifth, including one for last season's Nine). Nor is it his first Stoppard on Broadway. He directed The Real Thing in 2000, collecting his third Tony nomination for the effort.

In Jumpers, Leveaux must not only move his cast about the stage, but acts as traffic cop for a constantly rotating set, a descending crescent moon, a trapeze and a group of amateur tumblers. How does he keep this dramatic top spinning? "It's a rhythm issue," he replied. "All theatre depends on rhythm. With a play like Jumpers—and it's true of Fiddler on the Roof as well [another show Leveaux directed this Broadway season]—what is interesting to me is not to create a fixed, literal world where you bring in a lot of scenery, but to actually make the focus about individuals, about actors. And actors have a relationship to objects and to space. The way you alter the rhythm of a space can massively alter the way an audience perceives what's going on."

Stoppard has seen several productions of his work land on Broadway in recent years and the critical reception has been almost uniformly good. Leveaux does not think it's simply a string of good luck. "I think what's happened with Tom is that those plays of Stoppard of 20 or 30 years ago that were considered to be these brilliant, virtuosic things started to be read and heard in a different way," the direct opined. "When we did The Real Thing, it became clear that this was a writer who can write very deeply and strongly about relationships and is not that addicted to cleverness. The cleverness has become less central to his plays."