’33 Variations’ Closes Bluebarn’s 25th Season


May 6th, 2014


Omaha, NE — Beethoven meets Bluebarn in an upcoming theatre production.


Blue Barn Theatre - 33 Variations press photo editThe Bluebarn Theatre in Omaha wraps up its 25th anniversary season with “33 Variations” by Moisés Kaufman. Producing Artistic Director Susan Clement-Toberer says it was the first production she chose for this season, pointing out parallels to the Bluebarn’s own history.

“So it was the first show that I knew I wanted to produce for our 25th anniversary season,” Clement-Toberer said. “When I read it, one of the main themes was creating something incredibly intricate and beautiful from something considered commonplace, and to never negate that something simple can create something magnificent.”

One focus of the play is Beethoven’s 33 “Diabelli Variations” and their somewhat mysterious origin. The questions include “When asked to write one variation, why did Beethoven write 33?” and “How did Beethoven create something so epic from such a small, mediocre source?” The play also follows another story in the present:

“The play exists in two time periods: Beethoven’s time period, and then present-day as well,” said Clement-Toberer. “We follow really two storylines that intersect throughout the play. One is Katherine’s, she is a musicologist, and she also has just been diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

Adding to the drama is the tension between Katherine and her daughter and Beethoven’s own decline in health. Tying the threads of the story together is music of the master himself:

“During the course of the play we have Hal France playing all 33 variations live, throughout the play,” Clement-Toberer said.

Beyond the music, Ruth Rath – who plays Katherine – points out the depth of the world the cast enters when they walk onstage.

“When I first read the script, I realized how much I learned about Beethoven and all the wonderful things he’d done, and the difficulties in his life…how much I’ve learned about Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and the process people go through,” said Rath.

Katherine’s nurse, Mike Clark, is played by Brian Zealand, who says the story includes some universal messages:

“The heart more than anything else made me sure more than anything else that I wanted to be a part of this show,” Zealand said. “The story is a beautiful one about humans being humans and how hard it can be, sometimes.”

The Bluebarn’s production of “33 Variations” by Moisés Kaufman and featuring pianist Hal France runs May 8 through June 8. For tickets and more information, visit www.bluebarn.org.


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