About the Play

Roebling: The Story of the Brooklyn Bridge
A stage drama in two acts by Mark Violi

Cast featuring 11 M, 2 F

Kyla Marie Mostello as Emily Roebling and Chuck Donnelly as Washington Roebling in Actors' NET premiere production Sept. 2009.

A vision that would change the world would first challenge a family.

New York City, 1869 and following years amid the Industrial Revolution.

After years of preparation and in the midst of New York’s notoriously corrupt government, John Roebling is awarded the design and steel contract to build a bridge over the East River from New York to Brooklyn. This would be the largest suspension bridge in the world. Innovative new techniques familiar only to John Roebling need to be employed to successfully build a bridge of this scale, techniques deemed dangerous by many. Before bridge construction is begun, chief engineer John Roebling is killed in a freak boat accident. This loss leaves the entire project in doubt and closer to the clutches of a rival steel company, headed by the scheming Haldis Dickey.

The East River Bridge Company chooses John's son Washington Roebling to serve as the new chief engineer. Though he is reluctant to lead, urgings from his strong-willed wife Emily convince Washington he must serve in his father’s place. Washington begins construction with the aide of his close associates, the bridge's first assistant engineer Charles "C.C." Martin and the affable master builder, E.F. Farrington.

Shortly into construction, Washington becomes paralyzed from caissons disease or “the bends”. With Washington incapacitated, Dickey Steel & Wire snatches the steel contract and implements dangerous cost-cutting methods that turn the bridge into a deathtrap. At this same time the Bridge Company threatens to oust an ill Washington Roebling. With pressures mounting against him and lacking the physical and emotional strength to continue his work and fight for his position, Washington turns to his friends to fight for him. But it is Emily Roebling who surprises the establishment of the day by taking it upon herself to ensure the Roebling name is forever attached to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Based on the true story.


A forgotten story of American triumph finds new life.

While the Brooklyn Bridge is known and appreciated worldwide, few know of the trials the Roebling family had to endure in order to fulfill John Roebling's dream of a bridge over the East River. Audiences will be particularly moved by the passing of the burden of responsibility for the bridge's completion. After John Roebling dies, his son reluctantly takes over. But he too, is stricken with a debilitating illness brought on by his efforts on the bridge. Finally his wife, Emily rises to take the reins, surpassing all 19th century assumptions about what women are capable of.

Other themes evident here include a son's dedication to a father's legacy, the pressures and high-cost of big business, overcoming incredible odds working within a technological infancy, the importance of keeping reliable friends close to you and overcoming physical handicap to complete a dream.

This play focuses on the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, but the Roebling family and Roebling Steel Company have roots reaching across the country. John Roebling is a German immigrant who settled in rural Pennsylvania then opened his steel business in Trenton, NJ and eventually further south to found the industrial town of Roebling, NJ. Aside form the Brooklyn Bridge, Roebling has built bridges across the country most notably in Ohio and Pittsburgh even providing the steel for the Golden Gate Bridge.

The legacy of the Roebling family is significant to all those who came to America in search of greater opportunity; to all those who have overcome incredible odds in pursuit of their dream. This play invites audiences to begin to get to know the Roeblings and their most magnificent accomplishment.

Production History

ROEBLING has an ever-expanding production history, touching greater audiences with this compelling drama based on the amazing true story.

Morristown, PA–2009

The world premiere of ROEBLING was at Actors' NET of Bucks County in Morrisville, PA. The three-week run was produced by Actors' NET and directed by Cheryl Doyle.

Roebling, NJ–2010

By special invitation of the Roebling Museum in Roebling, NJ, the play was produced at the newly-refurbished historic Roebling Theatre. This two-week run was a joint production by the museum and Theatre To Go; it was directed by Ruth Markoe.

Trenton, NJ–2014

A joint production with Theater To Go and the State Museum, ROEBLING was presented as a two-week run at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, NJ. Directed by Ruth Markoe. Interestingly, the theater ROEBLING was presented in is directly across from where the Roebling Mansion once stood (currently the site of the NJ State Library).

November 2016

Kelsey Theatre West Windsor, NJ

ROEBLING played to sold-out crowds when presented in very special limited one-week-only run at Kelsey Theatre in West Windsor, NJ. The show opened November 11 2016 with three weekend performances. Produced by Theater To Go; directed by Ruth Markoe.
Show Listing

Where will ROEBLING be next?

ROEBLING has been filling seats and thrilling audiences for years now. We love sharing this story with new audiences. Let's discuss a relationship where ROEBLING can be brought to your stage.

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