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16 Jul 2015

Praise For “33 Variations”!

Praise from the media:

MORE THAN MUSIC IN MOISÉS KAUFMAN’S “33 VARIATIONS”
Classical music and emotional tensions collide in this daring production

Though it uses Beethoven’s life and music as a source of fuel, this play isn’t really about loving the composer’s work or understanding the rhetoric of minuets and marches and chord changes. Instead, this Tony-nominated play by Moisés Kaufman develops memorable relationships: between lovers, between mothers and daughters, and especially between artists and their audiences.

“I have to understand why a genius became obsessed with mediocrity!” exclaims Katherine Brandt, played by Emma McQueen. Throughout the play, she becomes immersed in a search for answers about Beethoven’s long and arduous work with Diabelli’s waltz. Considered commonplace by McQueen’s present-day musicologist, the waltz occupied the great composer’s life for a handful of years, resulting in a set of pieces that revolutionized the form of the classical variation.

The play deftly weaves together the lives of Katherine and Beethoven on multiple levels. Katherine, diagnosed with ALS, battles her increasingly fragile physical condition with an unwavering determination to complete her musical research in Bonn, Germany. Simultaneously, scenes are staged from Beethoven’s life involving his desperation as he goes deaf to discover all of the melodic variations lurking beneath the surface of a simple waltz.

Katherine’s frayed relationship with her daughter, Clara (played by Joy Ross-Jones), complicates this knot of intellectual ambition. “I fear she will never really be anything,” says Katherine. Their strained interaction is pushed to its limit by the mother’s willingness to push others away in order to grow closer to her life’s work. Complicated, too, is the fact that Clara’s relationship with her new boyfriend, Mike (Nir Guzinski) is sparked by his role as her mother’s nurse, who must guide her through an incurable illness.

In the midst of sometimes-dissonant scenes occurring in different places and different centuries, Ian Baird, the pianist playing live and center-stage, subtly grounds the story. Self-awareness enters the performance in a lovely sequence where Beethoven confronts the musician while passionately rooted in the process of composing the very piece being played.

Stephanie McKenna’s performance as Beethoven is surprising for its ability to toggle between his strange and hilarious quirks and the oppressively heavy weight he carries as a mind lonely in its mad brilliance. The effect of a woman playing this role is one that deepens the relationship between the composer and Katherine. Both yearn to accomplish something that has never before been accomplished and to reveal to the world new freedoms and new knowledge. The scenes of their direct interaction resonate as a confluence of powerful wills that remain attached to incredibly vulnerable people.

To sink into the emotional lives of these people, to enjoy music in a new way, and especially to discover, as Beethoven did, more than you thought possible, go see 33 Variations at the Théâtre Paradoxe.

– YUL BUZZ

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THEATRE REVIEW: 33 VARIATIONS TACKLES BEETHOVEN MYSTERY

Never let it be said that Brave New Productions isn’t earning its name. This semi-professional company has shoved its way onto people’s radar through sheer hard graft and an eclectic output of regular plays, comedy events, readings and shorts.

The production of off-Broadway satire Mistakes Were Made earned the company four META nominations. Now it’s taking on its biggest project yet, a multi-Tony-nominated Broadway hit, with live classical music, that’s mostly famous for having brought Jane Fonda back to the stage after 46 years. Not only that, it’s presenting it in a new, untried venue, Théâtre Paradoxe, which is a beautiful converted church complete with stained-glass windows and all the imposing cavernousness of chez God.

Moisés Kaufman’s 33 Variations is one of those plays that takes on the role of sleuth to solve a mystery in the life of a great artist. In this case: why did Beethoven spend many of his last years tinkering obsessively with a trite little waltz dashed off by Diabelli, a music publisher on the make?

The action is split between the 19th century and the present day where, hot on the trail of the conundrum, musicologist Dr. Katherine Brandt travels to Bonn to collaborate with Marie-Noëlle Dufour’s no-nonsense archivist. Slowly, however, Katherine succumbs to a terminal wasting disease, an echo of Beethoven’s growing deafness and crippling ill health. Think Amadeus meets Whose Life Is It Anyway?

Kaufman is mostly famous for his magnificent piece of verbatim theatre, The Laramie Project, which reproduced real-life interviews around the murder of gay student Matthew Shepard (Brave New Productions tackled its sequel a couple of years back). 33 Variations draws on a similar technique in that it reflects Kaufman’s fascination with the “Diabelli Variations” after a record store clerk introduced him to them. It also semi-fictionally chronicles the research of real-life Beethoven expert William Kinderman.

As such, much of the play comes over as a docudrama about Beethoven’s last years, where modern-day speculation engages with dramatized historical passages (Stephanie McKenna as an irascible Ludwig Van, Bryan Libero as the pushy but naïve Diabelli, and – in a stand-out performance –  Sean Curley as Beethoven’s gentle but icily protective manservant). Appropriately, a grand piano takes centre stage where pianist Ian Baird illustrates, deconstructs, or just joyously plays, the Variations (…)

Co-directors Donald Rees and Tracy Allan achieve some beautiful passages throughout the almost three-hour playing time. A sensitive love-making scene, for instance, set to one of the more graceful variations. Or Dr. Brandt naked and vulnerable behind a radiantly-lit gauze screen(…)

Overambitious, perhaps, but definitely brave.

-MONTREAL GAZETTE

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33 VARIATIONS TIES BEETHOVEN TO PRESENT

“Without music, Life would be a mistake”…Frederich  Nietszche

The TONY award winning show, “33 VARIATIONS” illustrates how
the creation of innovative music can become an all consuming passion that transcends centuries.

Ludwig Van Beethoven`s life and works are a prime example.
His Symphony number 5  provided the BBC allied theme during World War II. His eccentricities inspired Keir Cutler`s Fringe hit “Ludwig van Lunatic”.

Now, both his music and times inspire this emotive production written by Moises Kaufman ( The Laramie Project: 10 years later) . It is powerfully mounted by Brave New Productions (BNP), which although a small semi-pro independent company, has created a  major contribution to the local Montreal scene.

Co-directors Donald Rees and Tracy Allan have assembled a fine group of seven actors.

From the early 19th century: John Abbot grad Stephanie McKenna , an ex Dance Animal grad, has morphed from a Gecko into an irascible but credible Beethoven.  Sean Curley  who last had a non speaking off stage role as an aquarium fish manipulator in BNP`s Mistakes Were Made  here is very much on stage as Beethoven`s man servant (and biographer?) Schindler. Concordia grad Bryan Libero  portrays Anton Diabelli, a Viennese music publisher and minor composer, whose open invitation to the leading composers of the day to write variations on his own little waltz generated  Beethoven`s 3 year obsession to create not one, not two, but 33 variations of it.

Fast Forward to the 21st century where: Emma McQueen, BNP`s artistic director, is superb as the academic musicologist Dr, Katherine Brandt who, despite a crippling disease, is determined to solve the mystery of Ludwig`s  obsession. Marie-Noelle Dufour adopts a German accent as Gertie Landenberger, archivist of Beethoven papers in Bonn,  Joy Ross-Jones is convincing as Clara Brandt, Katherine`s somewhat estranged daughter, who is distressed by her ailing mother`s departure to Germany. Nir Guzinski, a BNP regular, brings a light touch as Dr. Brandt`s  male nurse, Mike. Essential to all this is the inspired on stage piano playing of Ian Baird The atmosphere in the new performance space of Theatre Paradoxe, a former church, is perfect for the play. All in all, a wonderful combination of script, design, acting and direction that will probably be in line for a META recognition.

– MOBTREAL

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Praise from social media and comment sections:

“What a great play! I loved it! Great performance.”

“Bravo Bravo Bravo! an excellent cast, beautiful story and a fantastic production!”

“A stunning performance on a beautiful stage. Amazing job to cast and crew. Congratulations.”

“Je suis encore sous l’effet de la magie de cette excellente pièce, qui m’a captivée du début à la fin. Félicitations à tous les acteurs ainsi qu’au pianiste, tous très talentueux. Et j’adore le Théâtre Paradoxe, un endroit à la fois grandiose et chaleureux, très facile d’accès en plus, même sans automobile. Bravo aussi pour les décors et la mise en scène! Même si je suis francophone, j’ai pu suivre aisément la pièce, grâce à l’excellente diction des acteurs et à la bonne sono dans la salle, ce qui est quand même surprenant pour une église. I really loved my evening!”

“Incredible show, thank you!”

“Congrats on an amazing run and congrats to Brave New Productions for being one of the most ambitious, hard working and amazing companies out there!”

“A wonderful show, thank you all involved for a wonderful evening of just outstanding performances all around.”

“Last night was a beautiful opening! Congratulations to all involved.”

“I was lucky enough to catch this yesterday – A sublime combination of performance, text and music in a beautiful venue!”

“Really went in with no idea what to expect and was surprised at how engrossed I became in the story. I thought the acting was superb – not to mention the casting and the staging – and that guy on the piano…wow. Also what a great venue! I keep thinking about the show today and wanted you to know how impressed I am. You should be very proud! Bravo!”

“We had an excellent time last night at this play. Recommended, very thought-provoking, moving drama and well presented!”

“Production rafraîchissante qui allie musique de Beethoven interprétée par un pianiste installé sur scène et qui traduit bien le compositeur.

Des acteurs justes et complices de leur texte…Et que dire du lieu exceptionnel qui contribue à l’ambiance et à la qualité de la soirée.
À voir !”

“Honestly, it was fabulous. Some very poignant themes. It was so touching and really well put together. You should be incredible proud.”

“”The performances across the stage are all solid and as is the direction. The play is a solid hit destined to become a Broadway classic just like the master Beethoven himself.”

” Congratulations to all involved!! It literally made me both laugh and cry. Thanks for the special experience.”

“I was completely blown away by the show, the production, cast, venue. The story itself is phenomenal, but you guys brought it to life in a way that was so engaging and REAL, that it was like it was meant for me alone.”

“C’est simple, j’ai tout apprécié au plus haut point (le lieu – magnifique théâtre Paradoxe qui est une ancienne église – la mise en scène, le pianiste chevronné faisant revivre Beethoven, l’interprétation des acteurs passionnés avec une diction anglophone irréprochable, l’histoire très original présentée et je pourrais continuer encore & encore à énumérer les +++). Seul bémol attristant pour une présentation de théâtre-musical si puissante & originale…le peu de gens présents dans l’assistsance (nous étions à peine plus de quinze personnes). Je trouve cela bien dommage mais tous derrière & sur la scène ont livré comme si elle était pleine à craquer. Bravo!!!!”

Posted by Donald Rees July 16, 2015 @ 5:32 pm
19 Apr 2015

Tony Award Winning Broadway Play “33 Variations” premieres this May!

  • Tony Award winning text by Moises Kaufman
  • Live music and state of the art lighting
  • Tickets available at 25$ (discounts available)
  • Never before seen in Montreal

 

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Montreal’s Brave New Productions celebrates it’s 20th show with “33 Variations” by Moises Kaufman. A grand piano sits center stage and through live music, drama, comedy and dance, the audience is transported from modern day New York to turn of the century Vienna. State of the art lighting and the truly unique new venue round out the unforgettable experience playing this May 13-24 at Theatre Paradoxe (5959 Monk Boulevard).

Brave New Productions is proud to announce the release of “Variation Us”, an original instrumental song created by Donald Rees and Ian Baird. Combining elements from classical and contemporary music, the song is available on iTunes with proceeds going towards fundraising of the show. Download the song now and enjoy it performed live at the show.

Synopsis

A mother coming to terms with her daughter. A composer coming to terms with his genius. And, even though they’re separated by 200 years, these two people share an obsession that might, even just for a moment, make time stand still. Drama, memory and music combine to transport you from present-day New York to nineteenth-century Austria in this extraordinary play about passion, parenthood and the moments of beauty that can transform a life.

Casting

  • Emma McQueen – Dr.Katherine Brandt
  • Stephanie McKenna – Beethoven
  • Joy Ross-Jones – Clara Brandt
  • Sean Curley – Anton Schindler
  • Nir Guzinski – Mike Clark
  • Bryan Libero – Anton Diabelli
  • Marie-Noelle Dufour – Gertie Ladenburger

 

Production Team

  • Directed by Donald Rees & Tracy Allan
  • Technical Director – Isabelle Tremblay
  • Music Director – Kenny Wong
  • Choreography/Movement Coach – Stephanie McKenna

 

Critical Acclaim

“You don’t have to know Beethoven from Bach to find yourself thoroughly absorbed by the theatricality with which Kaufman has tied a historic event—the legendary mystery surrounding one of Beethoven’s compositions—to a drama about a fatally ill Beethoven scholar, her relationship with her daughter and the daughter’s burgeoning romance.” —CurtainUp.

“It’s a compellingly original and thoroughly watchable play for today that deserves to be remembered.” —Talkin’ Broadway.

A Unique Theatrical Experience

Presented inside the completely redeveloped Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours Cathedral at the brand new Theatre Paradoxe, “33 Variations” is being presented in Montreal with live music and a state of the art lighting design for nine performances this May. Tickets and More Information : http://www.theatreparadoxe.com

 

 

 

Posted by Donald Rees April 19, 2015 @ 5:01 pm
19 Jan 2015

Brave New Productions brings Tony winning “33 Variations” to Montreal this May

 

  • Presented May 13-24 at the unique Theatre Paradoxe
  • Live music and state of the art lighting
  • Tickets available starting at $20
  • Tony Award winning text by Moises Kaufman
  • Never before seen in Montreal

 

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Montreal, Quebec – January 19, 2015  – Montreal’s Brave New Productions is proud to announce the run of Tony Award winning “33 Variations” at Theatre Paradoxe (5959 Monk Boulevard) from May 13-24.

Written by Moises Kaufman (“The Laramie Project”), “33 Variations” will be Brave New Productions 20th production and will be directed by Donald Rees and Tracy Allan.

Synopsis

A mother coming to terms with her daughter. A composer coming to terms with his genius. And, even though they’re separated by 200 years, these two people share an obsession that might, even just for a moment, make time stand still. Drama, memory and music combine to transport you from present-day New York to nineteenth-century Austria in this extraordinary American play about passion, parenthood and the moments of beauty that can transform a life.

“33 Variations” simultaneously examines the creative process behind Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations and the journey of a musicologist, Katherine Brandt, to discover the meaning behind why Beethoven was compelled to write thirty-three distinct variations on a simple theme by a minor music publisher. The progression of her Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and her relationship with her daughter are also themes, as is Beethoven’s growing deafness.

Critical Acclaim

“You don’t have to know Beethoven from Bach to find yourself thoroughly absorbed by the theatricality with which Kaufman has tied a historic event—the legendary mystery surrounding one of Beethoven’s compositions—to a drama about a fatally ill Beethoven scholar, her relationship with her daughter and the daughter’s burgeoning romance.” —CurtainUp.

“It’s a compellingly original and thoroughly watchable play for today that deserves to be remembered.” —Talkin’ Broadway.

A Unique Theatrical Experience

Presented inside the completely redeveloped Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours Cathedral at the brand new Theatre Paradoxe, “33 Variations” is being presented in Montreal with live music and a state of the art lighting design for nine performances this May.

Tickets and More Information

Tickets start at $20 and will be available starting January 20th.

For more information about the show, including ticket availability and cast and crew announcements visit: bravenewproductions.com/33


 

About Brave New Productions

In their 11th season, Montreal’s own Brave New Productions’ mandate is to bring original engaging English theatre to Montreal audiences. The company is the recipient of more META nominations than any other company in its category (‘ART’, Mistakes Were Made, Contractions).

Season passes are available for sale on BraveNewProductions.com/Season.

Contact:

Orlando Lopez / Marc Roth

[email protected]

Posted by Donald Rees January 19, 2015 @ 3:50 pm
25 Nov 2014

Brave New Productions announces “Funny Shorts”!

 

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Brave New Productions celebrates the end of an incredible year with an evening of hilarious short plays starring fresh faces (as well as old, saggy faces) new to the Montreal theatre scene, working with our company members to create an unforgettable evening of laughter. From adult plays written by Shel Silverstein, to shorts by David Ives the master of comedy and even Woody Allen – it’s an unmissable weekend event!

In 2013, Brave New Productions introduced it’s weekend short play events as an opportunity to meet new talent, experiment with actor chemistry and provide the chance for company members to explore other roles in show creation. This year, after an incredible season resulting in 4 META nominations (Outstanding Independent Production: Mistakes Were Made, Contractions, Outstanding Emerging Artist: Elizabeth Neale (Contractions), Outstanding Lead Performance – Actor: Donald Rees (Mistakes Were Made), the theme of “Funny Shorts” aims to explore everything from physical comedy to theatre of the absurd in one tight, compact night of entertainment.

Creative Director: Donald Rees
Artistic Director : Emma McQueen
Project Director: Marc Roth

WORDS, WORDS, WORDS by David Ives, Directed by Emma McQueen recalls the philosophical adage that three monkeys typing into infinity will sooner or later produce HAMLET, and asks: What would monkeys talk about at their typewriters? Starring Gerard Harris, Amanda Golberg and Nathaniel Hanula-James.

ONE TENNIS SHOE by Shel Silverstein –  In the J.s. Elie directed “One Tennis Shoe”, Harvey (Lucas Chartier) needs to broach a delicate subject with his wife. He claims Sylvia (Chantal Bellavance) is becoming a bag lady, but she protests that her Bloomingdales’ shopping bag doesn’t make her a bag lady. No, says Harvey, but the picture frame, couch cushion and single tennis shoe retrieved from the garbage do. Not to mention the cold cooked oatmeal in her purse.

THE BEST DADDY by David Ives, Directed by Marc Roth. Lisa’s got the best daddy in the world. After all, he bought her a pony for her birthday. Too bad he shot it dead. Or did he? Angelo Vernucci and Julie Dalrymple star.

THE PHILADELPHIA by David Ives, Directed by JS Elie. A young man in a restaurant has fallen into “a Philadelphia,” a Twilight Zone-like state in which he cannot get anything he asks for. His only way out of the dilemma? To ask for the opposite of what he wants. Starring Sean Curley and Fernando Barbosa.

BUY ONE GET ONE FREE by Shel Silverstein. Merrilee and Sherilee (Stephanie Coco Palermo & Antonella Ruffollo) are offering the deal of the century. “Buy one, get one free,” these classy-ass hookers sing to a tempted Lee. It’s a golden opportunity. And it all rhymes. Directed by Donald Rees.

DEATH KNOCKS by Woody Allen. Nat Ackermann is on her bed reading when a mysterious figure climbs through her window and claims to be Death. Death is a little nervous; it’s her first day on the job. Starring Elise De Bussac and Amanda Goldberg. Directed by Marc Roth.

Dates: November 28, 29th – 8PM
Location: Theatre Ste Catherine (264 Ste. Catherine Est)
General Admission: 15$

Our Saturday performance (Nov 29th) will be followed by ‘Brave New Comedy – LIVE’ -that is included in the price of admission for ‘Funny Shorts’! Montreal’s top comics take the stage.

More information at : WWW.BRAVENEWPRODUCTIONS.COM

Posted by Donald Rees November 25, 2014 @ 5:08 pm
16 Aug 2014

Brave New Productions announces 2014/2015 Season A Season Full Of Montreal Firsts

Montreal, Quebec – August 8, 2014 – Brave New Productions is proud to announce the launch of their official 2014/2015 season. In keeping with the company’s mandate to bring Montreal audiences exciting and original theatre, the season brings audiences three Montreal premieres and one original World premiere.

Season passes are available for sale on BraveNewProductions.com/Season starting August 15.

Montreal Premiere

Mistakes Were Made
Directed by: Stephanie McKenna (Motherhouse, The Lonely Bar) , Emma McQueen (God is an Iron, Merton at the Movies) and Nir Guzinski (Johnny Quickstep, Redshift)
Written by: Craig Wright

Mistakes Were Made

Synopsis: Felix is a NYC theatre producer about to blow a gasket. Jabbing at the hold button as he negotiates with a playwright, a movie star, a deep-pockets funder and an agent, all while mediating a Middle East crisis (involving sheep and militant rebels), this non-stop, fast-talking chameleon is bound for no good. With his overweight pet fish, Denise, as his only confidant and the weight of the world on his shoulders, the stage is set for a high-speed comedic train wreck of a tale.

Montreal Premiere

CONTRACTIONS Directed by: JS Elie Written by: Mike Bartlett

Synopsis: Contractions by Mike Bartlett receives its Montreal Premiere as Moving Forward Productions join hands with Brave New Productions to bring a little bit of dark comedy to MainLine Theatre

contractions

This intense two-hander premiered at London’s Royal Court and features Elizabeth Neale (LARPs: The Series, Fear Liath) and Emma McQueen (Done to Death, Iolanthe) as two workers dueling on opposing sides of the desk..

Emma (played by Neale) has been seeing Darren and she thinks she’s in love. Her boss (played by McQueen) thinks she’s in breach of contract. How far would they go to resolve the situation? Mike Bartlett’s play is a dark satire that’s ferociously funny while being absolutely appalling.

Directed by J.S. Elie and produced by Sherry Chen and Donald Rees, Contractions is a 55 minute comedic exploration into the perversions of a corporate society where goals are pitted against human instinct, and a fine line is drawn between the business of money and the business of life.

FUNNY SHORTS
Directed by:
Company Members Written by: Various

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Synopsis: Monkeys writing Shakespeare, prostitutes who solicit using rhyme – Brave New Productions is excited to bring 8 funny shorts to Montreal for a night of unforgettable comedy. David Ives, Shel Silverstein and many more authors provide the text – while company members direct and unleash brand new talent to the stage – all for one spectacular weekend this fall.

Fringe Montreal Holdover

TALKING COCK
Directed by:
Donald Rees & Tracy Allan Written by: Richard Herring

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Synopsis: In 2013, Brave New Comedy formed as a sister company to Brave New Productions. An experiment in blurring the lines between comedy and theatre, BNC has focused on live comedy shows, podcasts and web series. This summer, our little start-up brought Richard Herring’s internationally acclaimed “Talking Cock” to Montreal for its Canadian premiere. A very adult, and very straight-forward comedy show focused on the history and mystery of the human penis, “Talking Cock” held 10 performances over 2 weeks to nearly entirely sold out shows and critical acclaim An undeniable success for BNC and a clear affirmation that there is a market for this new hybrid experiment. Talking Cock returns for one week this October as part of the Harvest Theatre festival at Mainline.

Montreal Premiere

33 Variations
Directed by:
Tracy Allan Written by: Moises Kaufman

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Synopsis: 33 Variations is Brave New Productions most exciting and challenging project to date. A mother coming to terms with her daughter. A composer coming to terms with his genius. And, even though they’re separated by 200 years, these two people share an obsession that might, even just for a moment, make time stand still. Drama, memory and music combine to transport you from present-day New York to nineteenth-century Austria in this extraordinary play about passion, parenthood and the moments of beauty that can transform a life. Brave New Productions is excited to premiere this incredible show for the first time in Montreal this March.

World Premiere – Original Content

The Art of Entertainment
Directed by:
Emma McQueen & Sean Curley
Written by: Donald Rees, Emma McQueen & Sean Curley

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Synopsis: Brave New Productions closes its first season by returning to it’s roots with a completely original script written, directed and starring three company members who explore the value of entertainment in theatre, challenge the existing state of the industry – and reaffirm the meaning of real friendship. All while paying homage to over 50 plays and playwrights. The Art of Entertainment is Brave New Productions first original play in 5 years.

About Brave New Productions

Entering their 11th season, Montreal’s own Brave New Productions’ mandate is to bring original engaging theatre to Montreal audiences.

Contact:

Orlando Lopez / Marc Roth [email protected]

Posted by Donald Rees August 16, 2014 @ 5:55 pm