During the first three weekends in September, the Church Hill Theatre will present the Tony Award nominated play 33 Variations by Moises Kaufman. In 2009 it received 5 nominations including Best Play while Jane Fonda was starring in the unique drama on Broadway. It explores the creative genius of Beethoven by a modern-day musicologist, obsessed with searching for reasons why Beethoven would lower himself to do 33 variations of a said “trite” waltz created by Diabelli. This, at the same time Beethoven’s health was failing as he was going deaf. Coincidentally, Brandt is being overwhelmed by ALS, and the parallels of her struggles that mirror Beethoven’s become a moving tribute as the play fully explores both time periods, with Beethoven’s music constantly played on stage.
The play’s director Michael Whitehill selected a talented newcomer to the area to play the often complex pieces assembled by Beethoven. Stephanie King LaMotte moved to Chestertown, Maryland after spending three decades as a professional pianist in Oregon. Trained by renowned professor Aiko Onishi, she was a featured soloist for the Willamette Falls Symphony and a staff pianist for the prestigious Tuscia Opera Festival in Italy. She has played her original score “Remember” on the deck of the Battleship Missouri and locally, Sondheim’s intricate pieces for Sweeney Todd at Chestertown’s Garfield Center for the Arts.
Joining Ms. King Lamotte on stage are talented local actors including 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 Eddie Vance plays Ludwig Van Beethoven, Ken Gresh plays Anton Diabelli, and Will Robinson portrays Anton Schindler, Beethoven’s secretary and business manager.
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