Passion, creativity abound in Moisés Kaufman’s “33 Variations” at Boston’s Lyric Stage

Jim Andreassi (Beethoven), Paula Plum (Dr. Katherine Brandt) in 33 Variations.  Photo by Timothy Dunn.

Jim Andreassi (Beethoven), Paula Plum (Dr. Katherine Brandt) in 33 Variations. Photo by Timothy Dunn.

Beginning January 4 and continuing to February 2, 2013 at Boston’s Lyric Stage is 33 Variations, written by playwright Moisés Kaufman in 2009.

In 33 Variations, actor James Andreassi embodies Beethoven, the controversial personality whose symphonic work has been beloved by generation upon generation of music aficionados. Moisés Kaufman’s play focuses on the last four years of the composer’s peripatetic life, when he was obsessed with writing variations of a theme composed by a music publisher named Anton Diabelli played by Will McGarrahan.

Fact and fiction are skillfully woven into the Kaufman’s text as a terminally ill musicologist (Paula Plum) researches Beethoven’s compulsion. The production leaves the audiences pondering Beethoven’s genius as well as the correlations it has to its contemporary characters. As a result, it is one of the most satisfying plays, especially for music lovers, and creative types in general. But not only is it a stirring drama of the anguish involved in composition, the play also includes excerpts from the Diabelli Variations performed live.

Drama, memory, and music combine to transport you from present-day New York to 19th-century Austria as a mother comes to terms with her daughter and a composer comes to terms with his genius – while both strive to overcome progressive physical hurdles.  Separated by 200 years, these two people share an obsession that transcends the boundaries of time.  Moisés Kaufman (The Laramie ProjectGross Indecency) has written an extraordinary play about passion, parenthood, the creative process, and the moments of beauty that can transform life.

The play simultaneously examines the creation of Beethoven’s piano masterpiece the Diabelli Variations, and the struggle of a musicologist, Katherine Brandt, to discover why Beethoven was compelled to compose thirty-three distinct variations on a simple, uninspired theme. The progression of her ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and her relationship with her daughter are also themes, as is Beethoven’s growing deafness.

The action takes place both in the present and in Beethoven’s time, switching back and forth between contemporary New York City to Bonn, Germany and Vienna, Austria in the late 1800s.

Discount tickets? Yes! We are pleased to offer you access to half priced tickets for many of these performances, with the cost of tickets dropping from $40-58 to $20-29 plus a small service charge. Just Click me and sign in with your email address to access.

“An utterly absorbing new play!” – Theatre Mania


Directed by Spiro Veloudos

Scenic Design, Cristina Todesco**

Costume Design, Charles Schoonmaker**

Lighting Design, Karen Perlow

Sound Design, Brendan Doyle

Projections Design, Shawn Boyle**

Production Stage Manager, Maureen Lane*

Assistant Director, A. Nora Long

Assistant Stage Manager, Samantha Setayesh



Paula Plum*                                     Dr. Katherine Brandt

Dakota Shepard                              Clara Brandt

Kelby T. Akin*                                 Mike Clark

James Andreassi*                           Ludwig van Beethoven

Will McGarrahan                            Anton Diabelli

Maureen Keiller*                            Dr. Gertrude Ladenburger

Victor L. Shopov                             Anton Schindler

Catherine Stornetta                       Pianist

*Member of Actors Equity Association (AEA)     ** United Scenic Artists (USA-Local 829)

WHEN:        January 4 – February 2, 2013

Wednesdays, Thursdays – 7:30pm

Wednesday matinees – 2pm, January 9 & 30

Fridays – 8pm

Saturdays – 3pm & 8pm

Sundays – 3pm

Post-show talkbacks:  Sundays, January 6 & 20 after 3pm performance

Press opening:   Sunday, January 6, 3pm

VIP opening:  Wednesday, January 9, 7:30pm (post-show reception with cast and crew — open to all ticket holders)

WHERE:      The Lyric Stage, 140 Clarendon Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA  02116

TICKETS:    $25 – $58.

Seniors – $5 off regular price.

Student rush – $10.

Group rates available.

Box Office:  617-585-5678


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