8/2/2013 - HCAC: "33 Variations"

Teaneck New Theatre (TNT)—in association­­ with The Hackensack Cultural Arts Center (HCAC)—will present 33 Variations by Moisés Kaufman as the third production of its 27th season. Beatriz Esteban-Messina of Union City directs. 33 Variations runs from August 2-August 18 at The Hackensack Cultural Arts Center, 39 Broadway, Hackensack. Performances begin at 8:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 3:00 p.m. on Sundays.

Jane Fonda starred in the original production of 33 Variations, which received a 2009 Best Play Tony nomination. Told with poignancy and humor, this drama with music explores the creative efforts of two passionate people: a musical genius of two centuries ago and a music historian of today, both of whom are attempting to complete an epic work before time runs out. Ludwig Van Beethoven, played by Jack Bachner of Lodi, has become obsessed with composing extended variations on a minor waltz, while Katherine Brandt, portrayed by Hackensack resident Michelle Thomas-Hanson, is determined to unlock the mystery of why Beethoven was so obsessed with a trivial composition. 

Photo 1: Brian Wood (Montclair) and Andy Rodriguez (Paterson)
Photo 2: Wendy Tiburcio (Montclair) and John Schuk (Bogota)
Photos courtesy of Marilyn Schilke

Just as Beethoven’s increasing deafness didn’t diminish his creativity, Katherine’s encroaching illness doesn’t detract from her own mission. Katherine’s daughter Clara, played by Wendy Tiburcio of Montclair, attempts to alleviate Katherine’s problems despite her chilly relationship with her independent mom. Lending helping hands are Clara’s new boyfriend Mike Clark, played by John Schuk of Bogota; and music librarian Gertrude Ladenburger, portrayed by Montclair resident Jill Markos. Aiding Beethoven’s quest are his long-suffering secretary Anton Schindler, played by Brian Wood of Montclair; and music publisher Anton Diabelli, portrayed by Andy Rodriguez of Paterson. Diabelli also wrote the little waltz that gave birth to the play’s other main “character”: Beethoven’s glorious Diabelli Variations. 

Reflecting on her desire to direct 33 Variations, Beatriz Esteban-Messina relates that as a ten-year-old she watched a two-part presentation of “The Magnificent Rebel” on the Wonderful World of Disney. Says Beatriz: “It was a biographical study of the life and music of Beethoven, and even though I had some knowledge of classical music, this show inspired me to study more about the great composers and to listen to their creations.” Forty-eight years later when she went to see 33 Variations and realized that the title alluded to Opus 120 by Beethoven, her wonderful childhood experience was rekindled. “In the play, the playwright examines the obsessive nature of creativity, and the music moves the audience between the 19th century and the present,” Beatriz explains. ”By the end of the first act, I knew I wanted to direct this show.” 

Marilyn Schilkie serves as stage manager, and Carol Campione is producer. Both are Teaneck residents. 

Tickets for 33 Variations are $15; $12 for students and seniors; and $10 for theatre parties of 10 or more. Opening night only: Two $15 tickets for the price of one. For reservations and information, call TNT at (201) 692-0200. Visit TNT’s web site at www.go-tnt.org for directions to the theatre and for credit card ticket purchases.