‘33 Variations’: A wonderful musical mystery

For an evening of excellent drama with performances you won’t soon forget, a trip to Mountain View will be well worth your time. Robert Kelly directs this time-traveling play to ultimate heights with a cast that delivers the utmost possible in the field of theatre. William Liberatore at the grand piano interjecting the well-played, well-timed music of Beethoven is the bond that moves this piece.

The story by award-winning playwright Moises Kaufman is a well-done intermingling of mystery, comedy and tragedy that journeys down the roads of the past and present – sometimes apart and sometimes together.

Dr. Kaherine Brandt (superb Rosina Reynolds), a musicologist who knows she is living on borrowed time (an early ALS victim), is obsessed with the mystery of why Beethoven (fantastically perfect Howard Swain) decided to write 33 versions of a simple theme submitted by a little-known publisher, Anton Diabelli (charming Michael Gene Sullivan). At this time, Beethoven was walking a thin line of the other side of sanity, financially insolvent and terrified of losing his hearing.

Katherine’s strained love/non-approving relationship with her daughter Clara (brilliant Jennifer LeBlanc) comes into the present, while scenes with Beethoven and his group interject with smooth interference – almost, but never quite solving the mystery. The timing of each scene flows with almost waltz-like choreography.

Mike (Chad Deverman), a nurse and Clara’s love interest and Katherine’s volunteer caretaker, has charming chemistry with Clara and Katherine. Sharp-witted friend Gertie (Marie Shell) and Anton Schnidler (Jackson Davis), as Beethoven’s agent/caretaker, are so well-cast that all you need to do is sit back, let the concept roll and simply enjoy.

Casting director Leslie Martinson deserves an award for gathering this outstanding, perfectly cast group of actors. Sound and lighting by Brendan Aanes and Steven B. Mannshardt with scenic designer Andrea Bechert and costumes by Fumilko Bielefeldt complete this fine production.

“33 Variations” is must see theatre. 

Where: Mountain View Center For The Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View
Through: Oct. 28
Tickets: $23-$73
Details: (650) 463-1960 or visit www.theatreworks.org.

Leave your comments