33 Variations at Church Hill Theatre

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From September 6 to 22, 33 Variations will bring one of Beethoven’s finest piano works and Moises Kaufman’s compelling contemporary play to the Church Hill Theatre stage. With Stephanie King LaMotte playing the grand piano, Director Michael Whitehill shifts fluidly between the 19th and 21st centuries, exploring musical, medical and intellectual enigmas.  To celebrate this combination of art forms, the Queen Anne’s County Center for the Arts is sponsoring a pre-production reception on August 23, with food and spirits as well as live music and brief scenes from the play.

In 33 Variations, musicologist Katherine Brandt, coping with an advancing case of ALS, pursues her research on the background of Beethoven’s variations on a waltz by Anton Diabelli. Her story alternates and intersects on the stage with Beethoven’s own reaction to his growing deafness and his fascination with a brief work by a minor musician.  According to Kaufman, “It’s really a question about inspiration…what is it that Beethoven sees…it would be like if Philip Glass found a song by Britney Spears and decided to spend the next four years of his life studying and making variations on it. “

Robbie Spray plays Mike, with Kendall Irene Davis playing Clara in the Church Hill Theatre production of 33 Variations.

Director Whitehill’s cast includes Kathy Jones as the present-day music expert, Katherine Brandt; Kendall Irene Davis as her daughter, Clara; Robbie Spray as Mike Clark, Katherine’s nurse; and Debra Ebersole as Dr. Gertrude Ladenburger, a German music librarian.  In period costume (thanks to the Annapolis Opera Company) Eddie Vance plays Ludwig Van Beethoven, Ken Gresh plays Anton Diabelli, and Will Robinson portrays Anton Schindler, Beethoven’s secretary and business manager. Concert pianist Stephanie King LaMotte, on stage throughout the performance, plays all 33 variations, considered (along with Bach’s Goldberg Variations) to be the finest ever written.

Assisting in the production are Producer Sylvia Maloney, Stage Manager Ronald Lee “Speedy” Christopher, Jr., Dramaturge Shelagh Grasso, and Choreographer Cavin Moore. Doug Kaufmann is in charge of lighting and sound; Steve Atkinson is the photographer. The play is produced under arrangements with Dramaatists Play service, Inc.

33 Variations runs from September 6 – 22, with performances at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays. 2-for-the-price-of- one tickets are available for the opening night performance. Reservations are strongly advised and can be made by calling the box office at 410-556-6003 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org

Audiences are encouraged to attend the August 23 reception sponsored by the QAC Centre for the Arts, from 7-9 pm at 206 S. Commerce Street in Centreville. Tickets are only $20 and include refreshments, musical and dramatic entertainment, and a chance to discuss the play with the actors and production team. Call 410-758-2520 or email QACArtsCoordinator @gmail.com for reservations.

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