Rehearsals are in full swing for Moises Kaufman’s Tony Award winning play, 33 Variations, opening next month at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre.
The play promises one of the most exciting theatrical line-ups in recent memory, Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Golden Globe winning legend Ellen Burstyn will make her Australian stage debut opposite Lisa McCune, William McInnes, Helen Morse, Francis Greenslade, Toby Truslove, Andre de Vanny and pianist Andrea Katz.
Academy Award and Golden Globe winner, Burstyn is known for her brilliant performances in The Exorcist, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (Oscar and BAFTA winner for Best Actress), Requiem for a Dream and Netflix’s House of Cards, Burstyn is widely regarded as one of her generation’s greatest actors.
In 33 Variations, Burstyn plays Katherine Brandt, a musicologist devoted to uncovering the mystery behind Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations. Moving between the past and present, the play interweaves Beethoven’s (William McInnes) struggle to complete his masterpiece with Katherine’s journey to understand the composer’s obsession. Meanwhile, Katherine’s daughter Clara (Lisa McCune) seeks to connect with her mother as Katherine faces the greatest challenge of her life.
One of Australia’s most celebrated actors, Lisa McCune won ten Logie Awards (including four Gold Logies) for her iconic role as Maggie Doyle in Blue Heelers. She’s since gone on to win numerous prizes for her theatre work, and recently gave acclaimed performances in The King and I and the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of Gloria.
McCune re-unites with her Blue Heelers co-star William McInnes, an AACTA and two-time Logie Award winner whose many credits include SeaChange, My Brother Jack, The Time of Our Lives and Look Both Ways. McInnes recently appeared in the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of An Ideal Husband.
Playing Katherine’s colleague Dr Gertrude Ladenburger, Helen Morse has appeared in over 80 major Australian productions, including recent Helpmann nominated performances in John (MTC) and Memorial (Brink Productions). For her performance in last years Angels in America, The Saturday Paper described Morse as “the greatest Australian actress of her generation (well, let’s face it, any generation).”
As the composer whose waltz inspired Beethoven’s masterpiece, Francis Greenslade plays Anton Diabelli. Greenslade is well known to Australian audiences for his work in Mad As Hell, The Ex PM, Winners and Losers and multiple productions for the Melbourne and Sydney Theatre Companies. This year, the STC produced Greenslade’s adaptation of Accidental Death of an Anarchist.
One of Australia’s leading comedic actors, Toby Truslove plays Mike, a nurse who meets Katherine and Clara at a turning point in their relationship. Truslove’s television credits include lead roles in Utopia, Laid, Outland, and The Strange Calls. He’s also appeared with the Sydney and Melbourne Theatre Companies, and was recently seen in the Malthouse/Belvoir production of Bliss.
Rounding out the cast as Anton Schindler, Beethoven’s secretary, is Green Room Award winner Andre de Vanny, whose recent credits include the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of Red opposite Colin Friels, and a season of Swan Song with the Australian Theatre Company in Los Angeles.
Not to be forgotten is the plays eighth character, Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, seamlessly woven throughout and performed by renowned pianist Andrea Katz. Katz has worked with many major musical organizations including Opera Australia; Victorian Opera; Sydney Symphony; Sydney, Perth and Brisbane Festivals; and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
Combining Beethoven’s magnificent music with Kaufman’s deeply moving story, 33 Variations is a truly unique theatrical experience that explores the complex connections between life and art, mothers and daughters.
From 7 March at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre
www.marrinergroup.com.au / Ticketmaster: 1300 111 011
Images: Jim Lee Photo