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  world premiere drama
33 Variations a co-production of Tectonic Theater Project and Arena Stage
written and directed by Moisés Kaufman
August 24 through September 30, 2007
in the Kreeger (Arena Stage, Washington, DC)

There will be brief nudity during this performance.

Sponsored by Gina and John Despres, Rick Kasten and Arlene and Robert Kogod

The season kicks off with a compelling new play by one of the leading voices of the contemporary American theater – Moisés Kaufman, creator of The Laramie Project and Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde and director of the Pulitzer and Tony-winning I Am My Own Wife.

In 1819, fledgling publisher Anton Diabelli commissioned 50 composers to write a variation on a waltz he had created. Beethoven rejected the invitation, dismissing Diabelli’s waltz as ordinary. He then obsessively created 33 variations on Diabelli’s theme. Why? Kaufman’s play weaves Beethoven’s artistic journey together with that of Katherine, a contemporary musicologist wrestling to pin down the source of his inexplicable fascination with such an insignificant piece of music. Deciphering clues left behind in Beethoven’s notebooks and letters, Katherine delves into his compositional process and daily life – finding even greater insight into her own obsession with genius.

Don Amendolia - Anton Diabelli
Greg Keller - Mike Clark
Susan Kellerman - Dr. Gertie Ladenborger
Graeme Malcolm - Ludwig von Beethoven
Laura Odeh - Clara Brandt
Mary Beth Peil - Katherine Brandt
Eric Steele - Anton Schindler
Diane Walsh - Pianist

Creative Team
Playwright and Director - Moisés Kaufman
Set Design - Derek McLane
Costume Design - Janice Pytel
Lighting Design - David Lander
Sound Design - André Pluess
Projection Design - Jeff Sugg
Wigs - Chuck Lapointe
Choreographer/Movement - Peter Anastos
Production Dramaturg - Mark Bly
Script Coordinator - Colleen Mylott
Musicology Consultant - William Kinderman
Casting - Alan Filderman
Stage Manager - Meghan Gauger
Assistant Stage Manager - Kate Olden
Co-Producer - Tectonic Theater Project


Reviews of the 33 Variations world premiere...

"Many of the men and women attending the world premiere of 33 Variations were in tears. Moises Kaufman's wise, lyrical meditation on a musical mystery is a celebration of the mediocre, of the so-so, of the middling and second-rate - in other words, of us." (more)
- Baltimore Sun

"When is an obsession a good thing? When it's in the hands of a genius like Beethoven. Or, in the case of 33 Variations, when it's in the hands of playwright Moises Kaufman." (more)
- Metro Weekly (Washington, DC's GLBT News Magazine)

"Three interconnecting stories revolve around one woman in Moisés Kaufman's new play receiving its world premiere in the Kreeger. The play is in good hands with Mary Beth Peil as that woman, a musicologist in a race with deteriorating health to complete her life's work." (more)
- Potomic Stages

"What is the nature of genius? If creating art is a form of alchemy, transforming the rawest of materials into something sublime, what mysterious power facilitates that transfiguration – the process of turning one figure into a distinctly different one?" (more)
- Talkin' Broadway

"A study of obsession, the creative process, and the pressure of time's inexorable march, Moisés Kaufman's utterly absorbing new play, 33 Variations, which is getting its world premiere at Arena Stage, promises to do for Beethoven what Proof did for mathematics and Copenhagen did for nuclear physics." (more)
- Theater Mania

"Call it a whydunit. One of the classical music world's enduring mysteries is why Ludwig van Beethoven devoted four years of his diminishing life writing 33 variations of a mediocre waltz penned by a Viennese music publisher, all for a relative pittance. That's roughly the same amount of time, and perhaps energy, that playwright-director Moises Kaufman has spent turning the curious episode into theater." (more)
- Variety

"Whatever else you may think of the elaborate theatrical collage Moisés Kaufman has assembled to explain Beethoven’s creation of an influential masterwork from an “insignificant” waltz by Anton Diabelli, the world premiere of 33 Variations is indisputably ravishing to listen to and to watch." (more)
- Washington City Paper

"A work that seems mediocre or simple can inspire beauty and genius. Such is the idea behind playwright and director Moises Kaufman's '33 Variations,' which makes its world premiere at Arena Stage's Kreeger Theatre." (more)
- Washinton Post

"It has been said that someone is waiting to escort us to the afterlife — a loved one, a beloved pet perhaps. For scholarly sleuth Katherine Brandt (Mary Beth Peil), that certain someone is her personal hero, Ludwig van Beethoven (Graeme Malcolm), whose obsessions and afflictions are the subject of Moises Kaufman's lilting and involving play..." (more)
- Washington Times

Other bits of interest

NPR story from "All Things Considered" (text / audio)

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