33 Variations (2011)
Jane Fonda’s performance in 33 Variations was nearly universally praised when Moisés Kaufman’s lively historical drama opened on Broadway in March 2009. EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum lavished the actress with admiration in our original review: ”In her latest creative variation,” she wrote, ”Fonda is a little tremulous, a little taut. But she adds con brio to the music.” The show finds Fonda as a present-day music scholar seeking biographical clues in Beethoven’s vaunted 33 variations on a simple beer-hall waltz, while the realities of how the composer pulled it off play out both simultaneously and harmoniously. The role earned Fonda a Tony nomination.
The good news, as you might well guess, is that the L.A. production of the play — running at downtown’s Ahmanson Theatre through March 6 — still fires on all of its twisty, heart-wrenching cylinders. Besides the shining Fonda, nearly all of the NYC principals reprise their roles — except for Colin Hanks, whose role as the nurse of Fonda’s character is taken over by the very capable and comedically gifted Greg Keller. To put it simply, the supporting cast is still amazing; the clever set is still fantastic; and the music, well, it’s still just one of the most beautiful things you’ll hear in a theater now. There’s no reason to rehash more of the plot (just head back to Schwarzbaum’s original review for that), but it should be said again that watching Fonda morph from a strong, capable woman into a limp but stubborn woman dying of a degenerative disease will never get stale. A-
(Tickets: CenterTheatreGroup.org or 213-628-2772)