Aside from dancing, Berkeley Rep Square is far from paradise

Jan 11

Aside from dancing, Berkeley Rep <i> Square</i> is far from paradise

There are actually two competing musicals in Paradise Square: A New Musical now having its world premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. One of them is much better than the other.

Incredibly ambitious and overstuffed, Paradise Square wants to create excitement about a particular moment in American history with a wonderfully diverse cast and a score that blends show music, traditional music and contemporary sounds (sound familiar? can't blame producers for not wanting to throw away their shot). But this show, many years in the making, is still fuzzy, unfocused and only intermittently interesting.

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TheatreWorks offers Variations on a scheme

Oct 07

TheatreWorks offers <i>Variations</i> on a scheme

When Moisés Kaufman gets to the point in his play 33 Variations, there's resonance, beauty and purpose in it. For nearly 2 ½hours we've been tracking parallel stories: one in the present as a terminally ill musicologist delves into the mystery of why Beethoven wrote 33 variations on a waltz theme by music publisher Anton Diabelli. And the other in the early 19th century as we watch Beethoven, his health and hearing failing him, tackle major late-career works (his Mass, his Ninth Symphony) all while succumbing to an obsession with the Diabelli variations. The two stories do fuse in an interesting way eventually as issues of time, mortality and attention to detail bridge past and present while offering a spark of inspiration and insight into the nature of obsession.

Kafuman's 2007 drama, produced by TheatreWorks and directed by Artistic Director Robert Kelley, takes its time getting to the point. Kelley's production is thoroughly enjoyable and features some sharp performances, but the play itself doesn't cut very deep, and the whole past/present cohabiting the stage thing doesn't really work. In the crudest of terms, the play is an uneasy mash-up of Wit and Amadeus.

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Moises Kaufman’s `33 Variations’ wins big award

Mar 30

The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) has selected Moises Kaufman’s 33 Variations to receive the 2008 Harold and Mimi Steinberg /American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award. The announcement was made Saturday, March 29 at Actors Theatre of Louisville during the Humana Festival of New American Plays. The award includes a commemorative plaque...

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