By now you might have heard the buzz that Jane Fonda has returned to the Broadway stage for the first time in 46 years, at the age of 71, and man does she look good. She hasn't missed a beat! Carly and I had the pleasure of seeing her in action before the play officially opened this past Monday.
Fonda plays music researcher Dr. Katherine Brandt who goes to Bonn - that's in Germany - to understand why Beethoven would spend so much time on Diabelli's waltz. Similarly Brandt is suffering from a progressive illness that brings her story to perfectly parallel the big wig composer's. The play cuts back and forth between Beethoven who is going deaf and working on not one, not seven but 33 variations of the piece, and Fonda's Katherine who is trying to find meaning behind the music and complete her final book/presentation before illness takes over.
Yes, Fonda is the star and deserves all the hype but so do her amazing cast mates:
- Samantha Mathis plays Clara, Fonda's not so warm daughter
- Colin Hanks plays Mike Clark, Fonda's lovable male nurse who becomes Samantha's boyfriend
- Susan Kellermann plays Greta, the German curator of Beethoven’s music archive who turns into Fonda's right hand research buddy
- Zach Grenier plays the dynamic master Ludwig von Beethoven
- Don Amendolia plays Anton Diabelli, music publisher and writer of the waltz that consumes Beethoven
An added bonus to the ensemble is Diane Walsh on piano. Her music really guides the play and perfectly enhances the storyline.
Overall this play was fantastic. My only complaint is that I think Samantha needs to get comfortable in her role and work on her delivery. It seemed to me that she was over compensating and over projecting which made her character awkward and the strain between her and her mother feel forced.
However, anything that may have seemed out of place was saved by the performance of Colin Hanks. He was a natural in his Broadway debut. His character provides wonderfully quirky comic relief, a shoulder to lean on.
Regardless, 33 Variations is one thing from beginning to end, moving. And speaking of the end, there is a wonderful moment where all of the characters come together to waltz. It seriously brought a tear to my eye. Bravo!
Don't want to take my word for it, need more variation? Check out a bunch of reviews and get general information on the play here, at NewYorkology.
9 years ago