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Actor Steven Skybell on Carol Burnett, rediscovering Boston’s food scene, and kicking back on vacay

We caught up with ‘The Lehman Trilogy’ star to talk about all things travel.

Steven Skybell (left) and his husband, Michael Cole (right), in Moab, Utah.

Even though he didn’t get a chance to see “The Lehman Trilogy” when it was on Broadway, actor Steven Skybell said he had heard such good things about the three-act play that when he was offered a role in the Tony Award-winning show — coming to the Huntington Theatre June 13-July 16 — he knew he wanted to be a part of it. In the wake of the hugely successful off-Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof” performed in Yiddish (and directed by Joel Grey), Skybell, who played Tevya in the musical, said his interest was sparked in “continuing to explore stories of Jewishness in all their different ways … and ‘The Lehman Trilogy’ seemed to check that box.” Written by Italian novelist and playwright Stefano Massini, the story follows the original three Lehman brothers (who migrated to the United States from Bavaria), their sons, and grandsons, as they journey from rags to riches to ruin. “It’s such an amazing challenge for an actor because it’s sprawling in its history,” Skybell, 60, said. “It covers 164 years and the three of us are playing all the characters.” The Lubbock, Texas, native said that he is excited to be in Boston rehearsing for “The Lehman Trilogy” since, as a new graduate from Yale drama school, he spent three years (1989–1991) as a company member at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge. “I’ve been to Cambridge to see friends … and I’ve been jogging along the Charles River every morning. I love that,” he said. “I’m also looking forward to visiting some great museums, and while I don’t know the restaurant scene here anymore, I’m eager to investigate and find some great restaurants while I’m here.” We caught up with Skybell, who lives in Mahopac, N.Y., with his husband, Michael Cole (a personal assistant/office manager for musical theater lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz) and their two Australian shepherds, Mackenzie, 11, and Caleb, 9, to talk about all things travel.

If you could travel anywhere right now, and money was no object, where would you go?


I would go to Italy. I’ve never been, and I long to go. I’d go for the antiquity, the landscapes, and the food.

Where was the first place you traveled to after COVID restrictions were lifted?


First place was a vacation in Moab, Utah: Biking, hiking, paddle boarding, and seeing some national parks.

Do you prefer booking trips through a travel agent or on your own?

I’m a bit of a control freak, [so] I prefer booking my own trips.

Thoughts on an “unplugged” vacation?

I like the sound of it, very much.

Do you use all of your vacation time or leave some on the table?

I do not book every minute of my vacation; I like to have room to make spontaneous changes once I’m on the ground. Also, I need built-in time to “recharge” while on a trip.

What has been your worst vacation experience?

Most recently, the worst aspect of vacationing is sometimes the travel snafus that occur. Last year I was bumped from my original flight and couldn’t get home for two days.

Do you vacation to relax, to learn, or for the adventure of it all?

I like a vacation that isn’t too taxing; however, I do like adventure and learning on a trip, but certainly I like to relax.


What book do you plan on bringing with you to read on your next vacation?

I’m participating in the Daf Yomi cycle of the Talmud, where all over the world the same page of Talmud is being read every day. It’s a seven-year cycle, so I will definitely be taking my volume of Talmud with me.

If you could travel with one famous person/celebrity, who would it be?

Carol Burnett, because I’m sure she’d keep the trip amusing!

What is the best gift to give a traveler?

Not sure.

What is your go-to snack for a flight or a road trip?

I’ve been intermittent fasting for several days a week for the last five years [and] I tend to let a travel day be a fast day. It just makes it easier than having to eat on the go, and then I can reward myself with an arrival meal when I reach my destination.

What is the coolest souvenir you’ve picked up on a vacation?

I love my Civil War-era quilt that I got when on a trip to Virginia.

What is your favorite app/website for travel?

Don’t have one.

What has travel taught you?

I’m basically a homebody, so when I travel, I love to see how others make homes in other places. I love seeing that no matter where people are, we all are basically seeking the same things.

What is your best travel tip?

Pack light.