Photo Coverage: 33 Variations Star Jane Fonda's Caricature Unveiled at Sardi's
"Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play Tony Award Nominee, Jane Fonda -- was honored with her very own caricature unveiling at the world famous Broadway eatery, Sardi's Restaurant (234 West 44th Street) on Tuesday, May 12th.
Fonda joins the ranks of Broadway royalty whom have been honored with a caricature on the famous walls of Sardi's Restaurant (a roster that includes her late father, the legendary actor Henry Fonda). BroadwayWorld.com was there to cheer the 33 Variations leading lady on!
Producer David Binder announced earlier this month that the critically acclaimed production of Moisłęs Kaufman's 33 Variations starring Jane Fonda will end its run on Thursday, May 21st, 2009. The limited engagement will close three days earlier than previously announced and a performance has been added to the beginning of the final week now playing at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre (230 West 49th Street).
Talking Beethoven With 33 VARIATIONS' Zach Grenier
It's a known fact that actors like to talk. Stereotypically, they like to talk about themselves: about their latest endeavors, about their past performances and about their upcoming projects. Zach Grenier is a different kind of actor. He likes to talk about Ludwig Van Beethoven. The fact that he's currently playing the composer in Moisłęs Kaufman's brilliant play entitled 33 VARIATIONS has him talking about the play, too. It's a very special production and it's brought Jane Fonda back to Broadway after 43 years in film, television and activism. Still it is obvious that Grenier is in love with the art of acting and enjoys discussing his current project and the musical giant he portrays in it.
In 33 VARIATIONS, Grenier embodies Beethoven: the controversial personality whose symphonic work has been beloved by generation upon generation of music aficionados. Kaufman's play focuses on the last four years of the composer's peripatetic life, when he was obsessed with writing variations of a theme composed by a music publisher named Anton Diabelli. Fact and fiction are skillfully woven into the Kaufman's text as a terminally ill musicologist (Fonda) researches Beethoven's compulsion. The production leaves the audiences pondering Beethoven's genius as well as the correlations it has to its contemporary characters. As a result, it is one of the most satisfying new plays that Broadway has seen in a long while, and Grenier is proud of his association with it.
Jane Fonda walks into a 55th Street tea house carrying Tulea, her small, white canine companion. Where Fonda goes, Tulea follows. The bichon-like dog (officially a Coton de Tulear) recently ran onto the stage during one of her master's curtain calls, after a performance of "33 Variations."
In the Moises Kaufman drama, Fonda, 71, plays a reedy musicologist suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease and using her dwindling time to finish a thesis about Beethoven. The role marks her return to Broadway after a nearly half-century absence.
Fonda, in the interim, has led lives as a sex kitten, social activist and workout guru, and is now reinventing herself once more, as a blogger.
Moises Kaufman's play 33 Variations mixes comedy and serious ideas. Starring Jane Fonda, in her first Broadway role in 46 years. Fonda plays a musicologist who is fighting ALS --Lou Gehrig's disease --while researching Beethoven's manuscripts and trying to repair a difficult relationship with her daughter.
"There's a lot of laughter," Fonda says. "I mean, one is surprised how funny it is. But it takes you somewhere. I think people want to be taken somewhere and feel, when the experience is over, that they have actually experienced something and are the better for it."
'Variations' on a Theme Colin Hanks and Samantha Mathis on turning points, Jane Fonda, and famous parents
Colin Hanks and Samantha Mathis admit that the chance to appear on a Broadway stage with Jane Fonda was a major draw. So was performing in a work written and directed by Moises Kaufman (Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde). From the outset they knew 33 Variations would be a high-profile production and scrutiny would be intense --especially for Hanks, who is making his Broadway debut and whose father is Tom Hanks. Mathis also hails from an industry family. Her late mother is the well-known television actor Bibi Besch, and her grandmother Gusti Huber starred in the original Broadway productions of The Diary of Anne Frank and Dial M for Murder. Hanks and Mathis take their family backgrounds in stride. At least that's how they come off when they talk about their famous parents -- the advantages, the disadvantages -- and then get down to the more immediate issues of acting in general and the specific challenges they face in 33 Variations, which opened March 9 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.
In 1819, the music publisher Anton Diabelli wrote a waltz and sent it to fifty composers, asking each to contribute a variation. They all agreed, except for one--Ludwig van Beethoven--who dismissed it as a "cobbler's patch." But then Beethoven became obsessed with Diabelli's waltz, and ended up writing thirty-three variations that constitute his most ambitious piece for piano--Opus 120. Why? That is the question that haunts Dr. Katherine Brandt, the character played by Jane Fonda in the new play "33 Variations."
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JANE FONDA in '33 Variations'
After a lifetime on celluloid, and more than 45 years since her last curtain call, there was no guarantee Fonda would find her footing on Broadway again. But the star has never been more fully realized than she is as Katherine, a dying musicologist and Beethoven devotee. In a part as delicate as it is demanding, Fonda commands center stage.
Robert Redford, Dolly Parton, James Earl Jones and Lilly Tomlin Backstage!
March 22, 2009
Photos: Bruce Glikas
PIX11 MORNING NEWS
March 20, 2009
Colin Hanks Gives Us '33 Variations'
Colin Hanks spoke with us about being in the new Broadway show "33 Variations."
Written by Moises Kaufman, the play stars Hanks as Mike Clark, and Jane Fonda as Katherine Brandt, a woman racing against time to solve the riddle of a composer's 200-year-old obsession. As she faces her daughter, her past and Beethoven himself, Katherine must struggle to embrace the legacy of her own life. Fonda stopped by recently to talk about her role in the play as well.
Hanks broke through in film with his leading role in Orange County and has recently been seen in The House Bunny and as Father Gill in AMC's Mad Men. He is the son of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson.
"33 Variations" is now playing on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.
NEW YORK--The big news in the Big Apple this week is 33 Variations, the play in which Jane Fonda made a triumphant return to the Broadway stage after 46 years.
Fonda's elegant and nuanced characterization is worth cheering about, but there are other things that deserve commendation as well.
Two of them are the beautifully sensitive performances of Colin Hanks and Samantha Mathis, who play a pair of decidedly different caregivers in Fonda's life.
Fonda's character is Katherine Brandt, an eminent but personally difficult musicologist who is racing to assemble a thesis on why Beethoven spent some of his final years working on a series of variations on a piano piece by Anton Diabelli.
What complicates matters is that Fonda is dying of Lou Gehrig's disease and is leaving a lot of personal baggage behind her.
That's where Hanks and Mathis come in. He portrays Mike, her sympathetic nurse, while Mathis is Clara, her alienated daughter.
In the wonderfully complex structure of Moises Kaufman's play, these two strangers, whose only common link is a devotion to the overbearing Katherine, carve a tender relationship between them that gives the already heady play one more level of resonance.
"As soon as I read the script, I knew it was good and incredibly smart and beautiful," says Hanks, unwinding before a recent matinee.
NEW YORK -- To meet Jane Fonda these days means first getting past her 8-pound fluffy gatekeeper.
Tulea, a white Bichon-like dog, is never very far from her 71-year-old mistress _ part confidante, part wiggly joy, part security blanket.
How inseparable are they? Fonda, making her first foray on Broadway in 46 years, found out the hard way. She was recently bowing to a rapturous audience during a curtain call when she happened to look down.
"I saw, through my legs, this white thing and I thought, 'That's not what I think it is!' And then I heard the click-click-click of her little nails on the stage," she says.
The little dog had escaped from her backstage handler, wandered out to the delight of theatergoers, and turned into a complete ham.
"She knows what the applause means," Fonda says with a smile. "She knows that means that it's over and that we're going to be reunited. She came looking for me."
Tulea isn't the only one unleashed these days. Fonda, in what she calls the "second scene of her third act," has thrown herself into stage work with characteristic glee _ no surprise for a woman who doesn't do things halfway.
"I never thought the day would come that I would look forward to being on the stage every night," she says. "It's scary to some people and I would have thought it was scary, but it's not."
A Play About Music: Jane Fonda Talks About "33 Variations"
Actress Jane Fonda stopped by the studio to talk about returning to Broadway after 25 years and her starring role as Dr. Katherine Brandt in the dramatic Broadway play "33 Variations, " which is on from now til May 24.
"33 Variations" tells the story of Katherine Brandt, a woman racing against time to solve the riddle of a composer's 200-year-old obsession. As she faces her daughter, her past and Beethoven himself, Katherine must struggle to embrace the legacy of her own life. "Memory and music combine to transport you from present-day New York to 19th-century Austria, in this extraordinary new American play about passion, parenthood and the moments of beauty that can transform a life," according to the play's official website.
33 Variations Jane Fonda (accompanied by Beethoven) is not to be missed.
In Moises Kaufman's 33 Variations, Jane Fonda plays an American musicologista Beethoven specialistwho decides to go ahead with a research trip to Bonn, Germany, even though she's just been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). It's a grim prognosis for her, but maybe it's worse for us: Nothing can kill a night of pleasure at the theater faster than a play about death, life, and the meaning of art, the kind of thing in which characters exist only as mouthpieces for disembodied ideas.
But 33 Variations isn't, blessedly, that sort of play: Kaufman, who also directed this production, clearly wants to keep our nerve endings alive, not deaden them. The title refers to Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, in which the composer used Anton Diabelli's waltz as a springboard for his own rich but playful ideas. (The pianist and musical director here, Diane Walsh, interprets the work with a graceful touch, allowing plenty of air and light to flow through it.) Fonda's Dr. Katherine Brandt is so obsessed with the genesis of the Variations that she can't quite see them for what they are, just as she can't quite connect with her daughter, Clara (Samantha Mathis)--their relationship has always been cordial but not exactly warm. It's further stressed as Clara, while struggling with the reality of her mother's illness, embarks on a fledgling romance with the nurse who's been caring for her, Mike (played by Colin Hanks; he and Mathis perform a charming, tentative courtship duet).
MYFOXNY.COM - Two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda headlines the cast of eight in a new limited-run play on Broadway. It's called 33 Variations. It is written and directed by Moises Kaufman, author of the Laramie Project.
Moises Kaufman is a Tony and Emmy nominated director and award-winning playwright for I Am My Own Wife & The Laramie Project.
A red carpet opening event was held Monday night in Manhattan and Anne Craig was there.
Jane Fonda gives a Tony award winning performance in "33 Variations," which opened on Broadway last night to standing ovations.
But you knew she would: this is Jane Fonda, winner of two Academy Awards, the actress who was, essentially, Meryl Streep before there was Meryl Streep. Their career paths even intersected, because just as Fonda was winding down in 1982 with Sidney Lumet's underrated "The Morning After," Streep was coming on strong in "Sophie's Choice" -- a film directed by a Fonda regular, Alan Pakula.
Anyway: last night Fonda was in the zone, as they say, as "33 Variations" swooped through the Eugene O'Neill Theater. She's the star, but there is a very strong cast with her including Samantha Mathis, Colin Hanks, Zach Grenier, Don Amendolia, Susan Kellermann, Erik Steele and the amazing Diane Walsh who plays a massive amount of Beethoven on a grand piano just off stage through Moises Kaufman's wonderful play.
Talk about surprises! I am going out on a limb here to say that the Jane Fonda starrer on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theater is going to be pronounced a big hit by drama critics after its opening last night.
It isn't nice to review shows before the critics do so I'll wait to give you my own verdict on "33 Variations." But my bet is that this incredible play, actually starring Beethoven, staged and written by Moises Kaufman, will be one for the Tony Awards. Everybody in the cast is simply wonderful, including the elegant, glamorous and ultimately gallant Miss Fonda! Get in line now!
Jane Fonda on Broadway Return: "Being Active Keeps You Young"
Jane Fonda's opening on Broadway in Moises Kaufman's 33 Variations was a bit surreal. The theater was packed with a disparite crew: Dolly Parton (with four bodyguards in tow), comedienne Rosie O'Donnell, novelist Joan Didion, the playwright Tony Kushner, the actor Geoffrey Rush, the feminist playwright Eve Ensler, and The Nation Institute's Ham Fish, who towered above everybody. During intermission, he was on his Blackberry.
When the curtain came down, everybody cheered and bravoed, and Jane got a standing ovation.
Afterward, what seemed like the entire audience jammed into Buddakan restaurant, on West 16th Street. It's a cavernous place on two floors, lit by candles. Spiced shrimp, chicken dumplings, and other delicacies circulated endlessly. The noise was deafening.
Around 11 p.m., Jane arrived, flanked by bodyguards of her own, each carrying a walkie talkie. She sparkled in black sequins.
Jane Fonda returns to Broadway after a 46-year hiatus to star in 33 Variations, the story of Beethoven's last obsession.
Jane Fonda's new workout is Broadway: theatre aerobics -- doing 33 Variations, eight times a week, at the O'Neill Theatre. It has been 46 years since she was a Main Stem star, and her regimen now is quite different from the "go for the burn" edict she espoused in 1982 in her first exercise tape, still the top-grossing home video of all time.
What's changed? "Sleep," she says. "You need to get enough sleep. Sally Field and Eve Ensler -- friends of mine who have done theatre in the past few years -- said, 'Don't do anything else. Just sleep.' And I've discovered the wisdom of those words."
The 71-year-old actress and activist has indeed heeded the call to Broadway, but she hardly considers this new and utterly unexpected move a comeback. "It wasn't like I decided I wanted to do theatre and went looking for a play," she says. "The play looked for me, and the play found me at just the right moment in my life."
33 Variations -- written and directed by Moises Kaufman, who directed the Tony-winning I Am My Own Wife -- wrestles with one of classical music's abiding mysteries: why Ludwig van Beethoven spent four of his last years writing (for a pittance) 33 variations on a simple waltz penned by Viennese music publisher Anton Diabelli.
In a Broadway season that feels packed with talent and remarkable productions, Jane Fonda's Broadway return has merited a special place in the Broadway landscape. Tonight, a collection of stars aligned to celebrate the opening night of Jane Fonda in 33 Variations, and Broadway.tv and Broadway Magazine were there to share in the excitement.
In a wonderful moment of Broadway synchronicity, international country music icon Dolly Parton, who co-starred with Jane Fonda in the film of 9 to 5 was on hand to cheer for her friend. Dolly Parton is currently shaping 9 to 5 The Musical for its upcoming Broadway run.
Fonda haunting in return to stage
'33 Variations' explores obsession, search for peace
NEW YORK -- Some believe obsession leads to madness. But in Moises Kaufman's new Broadway play "33 Variations," a formidable music scholar uses her obsession with Beethoven's "Diabelli Variations" as an instruction manual for finding a deeper kind of peace.
Dr. Katherine Brandt -- the steely, impenetrable woman at the center of "33 Variations" -- has to crack wide open before grace rushes in. In a genius bit of casting, playwright-director Kaufman chooses the legendary Jane Fonda to occupy the crucible seat of this complicated mother and musicologist.
At 71, Fonda makes her first Broadway appearance in almost 46 years -- exhibiting the serene inner beauty of a woman who seems to have spent several lifetimes fighting back the demons of tragedy, fame and controversy. (The actress moved to Atlanta in the early 1990s, when she married media mogul Ted Turner, and has continued to live in the city since their divorce in 2001.) Happily, hers is a bravura performance: technically polished, emotionally engaging, honest to the core.
Jane Fonda shares the stage with Ludwig van Beethoven in Moises Kaufman's satisfying, musically astute Broadway brainteaser 33 Variations. Both of them acquit themselves nicely. But under the circumstances, I'd say Fonda has the harder job -- and it's a kick to watch her work out her timing as a stage actor, a half century after the Actors Studio alumna first performed in live theater. After all, Beethoven (an irascible genius channeled with gusto by Zach Grenier) seems to be playing himself in his later years. He's ailing and going deaf, to be sure. And for more than three years, he's been obsessed with turning a trifling little waltz by well-known Bonn music publisher Anton Diabelli into what would come to be known as the Diabelli Variations, one of the greatest works ever composed for piano.
History does not explain why Beethoven, while finishing his "Ninth Symphony" and "Mass" and on the verge of death, became utterly obsessed with a lengthy series of piano variations on an inconsequential beer hall waltz. Playwright-director Moises Kaufman's response was to write "33 Variations," now making its Broadway premiere with Jane Fonda.
Kaufman juxtaposes the story of Katherine Brandt (Fonda), an emotionally removed musicologist who visits Beethoven's archives in Germany in a desperate attempt to solve the mystery, with that of Beethoven as he writes the "Diabelli Variations." As it happens, both characters are dying of terminal illnesses and it is a race against time to complete their work.
Kaufman's production cinematically mixes together creative storytelling, nonstop projections of sheet music sketches, and a live piano recital from Diane Walsh, who plays the "Diabelli Variations" underneath the dialogue.
Needless to say, Fonda is the real muscle of the production. The 71-year-old actress has chosen a very challenging role for her return to Broadway after a 46-year absence. Katherine is a intelligent, determined woman who vigorously pursues an academic thesis, reluctantly confronts a strained mother-daughter relationship, and physically deteriorates throughout the play.
AT the core of Beethoven's "Diabelli" Variations, an esoteric and astonishing piano piece lasting some 50 minutes, is one of the intriguing mysteries of music history. Why did Beethoven, during the difficult last decade of his life, when he was deaf, chronically ill and often in financial straits, become nearly obsessed with writing an extensive and complex set of variations on a dumpy little waltz, a theme he had first dismissed as a "cobbler's patch"?
That question drives "33 Variations," the latest play by Moises Kaufman, which opens on Monday at the Eugene O'Neill Theater. The production is directed by Mr. Kaufman, best known for "The Laramie Project." Jane Fonda, in her first performance on a Broadway stage in 46 years, plays Dr. Katherine Brandt, an American musicologist who becomes as obsessed with solving the mystery of the "Diabelli" Variations as Beethoven was with composing the piece.
New York --- Jane Fonda says critics "excoriated" her 2005 movie, "Monster-in-Law," a popcorn comedy with Jennifer Lopez that marked her return to filmmaking after a 15-year hiatus. But Fonda says the project relaunched her career and connected her with a new generation of fans.
It also emboldened her to try Broadway again.
On Monday night, after a 46-year absence, the two-time Oscar winner and political activist who became one of Atlanta's own when she married (and later divorced) media mogul Ted Turner, returns to the Great White Way in "33 Variations." Moises Kaufman's new play, in previews since last month, is about a musicologist on a frantic quest to solve a mystery about the music of Beethoven, even as she succumbs to Lou Gehrig's disease.
As Fonda's iconic image looms on the signs outside the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, where the show runs through May 24, the still controversial Vietnam War protester is crafting an intimate self-portrait via the Internet --- rather than let the media shape it for her.
She posts on her blog regularly, sometimes several times a day, at janefonda.com and files Twitter comments between acts. From the vantage point of her makeup mirror, she has unmasked the insular backstage world of theater in ways that many find refreshing, if not unprecedented.
Colin Hanks has called his recent guest appearances in "Mad Men" the turning point in his career since it was his "first adult role." And this month marks a couple of new firsts for the 31-year-old actor.
He's making his Broadway debut in "33 Variations," opening tomorrow, playing Mike Clark, a nurse taking care of Jane Fonda's character who falls for her daughter (Samantha Mathis.)
And Hanks also will appear on film for the first time with his dad, Tom, in "The Great Buck Howard," in theaters March 20. Guard your Oscars, Tom.
Only about 6% of registered nurses are guys. Did you have to tap into your sensitive side to play one in "33 Variations"?
What I found most interesting was in regards to his relationship to Jane's character and Samantha Mathis' character. He's the nurse who helps them begin to have a physical bond. It's not a very tactile relationship, and so I actually started from that and worked backwards, essentially. So that was really my main interest, and then from there, obviously, there were little technical aspects about the specific illness that Jane's character has that I did some research on.
When Colin Hanks' new Broadway show opens tomorrow night, the young actor hopes records are set. Not a box office record, but a record of a more astounding kind: having a writer hold out for at least two paragraphs before mentioning who his father is.
The thing is, we all know who his father is. Colin knows who his father is. But maybe it's long since time to move past that. Maybe it's time column inches were devoted to Hanks based solely on the quality of his performances and projects. Maybe it all starts tomorrow night with "33 Variations," a play about an investigation into a Beethoven waltz.
Hanks sure hopes so.
"The most difficult thing is that no matter what else you do, it's always going to be the one thing everyone talks about," he says. "Before I even started out, I knew this was something that was always going to come up, no matter what, and so I just try and balance it against my love of the craft of acting."
Coincidentally, "33 Variations" also features another famous offspring: Jane Fonda. Fonda plays a musicologist suffering from ALS who becomes obsessed with an obscure Beethoven waltz, written in the early 1800s after a music publisher asked famous composers to pen one variation on a waltz. Beethoven initially considered the project beneath him, but ultimately spent three years writing 33 different variations for reasons unknown.
Certain online entries about actor Colin Hanks will tell you he has tried to pursue his career outside the shadow of his famous father. "That's a total lie," said the son of Tom Hanks. "I don't know how this stuff gets started. I knew early on it was going to be something that would follow me for all of my life, so I had to make sure that (a) I was OK with that and (b) not to run from it." The actor, 31, makes his Broadway debut Monday with Jane Fonda in "33 Variations" and stars on the big screen in "The Great Buck Howard," hitting theaters March 20.
Having played a priest on "Mad Men," John Malkovich's beleaguered assistant in "Buck Howard" (which stars the older actor as a washed-up magician-mentalist, based on the Amazing Kreskin) and the closest thing to a male lead in "The House Bunny," Hanks is establishing himself - albeit with a persona that hews fairly close to his father's nice-guy image. He spoke recently with Newsday contributor John Anderson.
Jane Fonda, star of '33 Variations,' has many lives
On Monday, Jane Fonda had lunch with the woman who used to run her workout business, watched a sex-education video made for teens who come to the Jane Fonda Clinic for Adolescent Reproductive Health in Atlanta and carried around her little dog, Tulea, so the pooch didn't freeze her paws in the snow.
Last Sunday, Fonda hung out backstage with buddies Gloria Steinem and Christine Lahti, then went home to watch "Brothers & Sisters."
Had enough? Come on, just a few more:
On Feb. 28, Fonda was visited backstage by a friend whose mother gave her the first funding in 1970 to operate an office for veterans in Washington, D.C. On Jan. 16, she dreamed that Robert Redford helped her catch a plane and, on Inauguration Day, she dreamed that George W. Bush was wandering lost on the estate of her late father, actor Henry Fonda.
Beethoven's 33 Variations on a waltz by Anton Diabelli are among the most exceptional pieces written for piano, but why Beethoven decided to focus so much attention on a single, some say simplistic, waltz, has been cause for great debate. In Moises Kaufman's new Broadway play, 33 Variations, musicologist Dr. Katherine Brandt (Jane Fonda) becomes obsessed with figuring out Beethoven's fascination with the variations. During the span of the play, we witness not only Beethoven's dark spiral into complete deafness, but Dr. Brandt's own struggle with a fatal illness, as both geniuses come to terms with the final phases of their lives.
Recently, we spoke with Kaufman--perhaps best known for his work as the primary writer of The Laramie Project--about the play, which inspired Jane Fonda to return to Broadway after a 46 year absence. 33 Variations officially opens at the Eugene O'Neill on tonight, for a limited run.
NEW YORK -- Jane Fonda has been, among many other things, a fitness guru, so it's no surprise that she looks younger than her 71 years. But exercise is neither the actress' sole weapon nor her top priority.
"I need to sleep nine hours a night, and I'm vigilant about that," Fonda says. "My father (actor Henry Fonda) told me that you need less sleep as you get older, but I'm still waiting. If I have to choose between sleep and working out, it's sleep."
There has been little time for aerobics as Fonda prepares for her first Broadway production in 46 years, 33 Variations, which opens Monday at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. Written and directed by Moises Kaufman, the play casts Fonda as Katherine Brandt, a musicologist who tries to determine why an aging, ailing Beethoven dedicated himself to writing multiple variations on a seemingly uninspired waltz theme.
The plot is complicated by Brandt's own battle with a rare, fatal illness -- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease -- and her tense relationship with her grown daughter, Clara.
"I wanted to do this play because it's about something," Fonda says in her dressing room, clutching a bottle of water and her pooch, Tulea. "I've been offered plays over the years with big, flashy roles, but I think this one inspires people. They leave the theater feeling like they've learned something."
Feature: 33 Preludes to 33 Variations: The Early Broadway Years of Jane Fonda
By now, you probably know that Jane Fonda is starring in 33 Variations, her first performance on Broadway in almost 50 years. But what was she like as a young aspiring actress? How did she establish credibility for herself in a city full of thespians, most of whom knew her as "Henry Fonda's daughter"? We consulted a stack of Fonda biographies, including Jane's own My Story So Far, to find 33 things you might not know about her career before she became an Oscar-winning movie icon.
Currently: Making his Broadway debut as Mike Clark, a nurse who looks after Jane Fonda's character--while falling in love with her daughter, played by Samantha Mathis--in Moises Kaufman's 33 Variations.
"I Knew Him When": Yes, Colin is the eldest son of Tom Hanks, the two-time Oscar-winning box-office titan. So some people assume his mom is Rita Wilson, and that he grew up with Meg Ryan burping him and Steven Spielberg helping out with science projects. In fact, he's the son of Tom's first wife, the late actress Samantha Lewes, and was born in 1977--three years before Dad ever appeared in a movie, much less Bosom Buddies, the sitcom in which he spent two seasons mostly in drag. "I can remember being one year old and him taking me along to go cash his unemployment checks," says Colin. "I can remember going with him to his first real job and watching him put on a dress when he got to work."
Backstory: 33 Variations and Its 190-Year Trip to Broadway
Ludwig Van Beethoven's Diabelli Variations stands alongside Bach's Goldberg Variations as one of the greatest works of its type ever written for the piano. Completed in 1823, the piece has inspired academic discourse, countless recordings and now a play, Moises Kaufman's 33 Variations. Though Beethoven has appeared on Broadway at least twice before (1910's Beethoven and 1984's Beethoven's Tenth starring Peter Ustinov), Kaufman's new drama is a breakout gig for the Diabelli Variations, as he weaves their story through one involving a terminally ill musicologist's rocky relationship with her adult daughter.
JANE FONDA, it's hard to believe, is 71. While the rest of us have just about managed one life, she's had half a dozen. She has been a sex kitten, a fashion model, a radical and war protester, an Oscar-winning movie star, an exercise impresario and the consort of a billionaire. Her marital history alone has made her a kind of cultural bellwether. Her first husband, the French director Roger Vadim, introduced her to threesomes; she first made love with her second husband, Tom Hayden, after he showed her some slides of Vietnamese peasants (this was back when people took foreplay seriously); and her third husband, Ted Turner, told her on their first date, "I have friends who are Communists."
Jane Fonda returns to the stage, radical and chic.
It is a voice we've missed, a voice like no other--an amalgam of disparities and contradictions: tautly seductive, caustic and soothing, detached yet engaged. As complex and mutable, you might say, as the woman herself. So it's no surprise that for her first Broadway performance in 46 years, Jane Fonda chose a story about transformation. In Moises Kaufman's 33 Variations, she plays a musicologist with ALS, hoping to solve one last mystery: why Ludwig van Beethoven spent his final years, stone-deaf, writing 33 small masterpieces based upon one inferior waltz by another man. "I'm attracted to people with passionate obsessions which override things like age or illness," says Fonda. "I found the play really visionary--the interplay between past and present, between life and death."
One Broadway play that was definitely sold out on Saturday night: Moises Kaufman's "33 Variations." Even though it doesn't open until March 9th, the new Kaufman offering is a hit thanks to the one and only Jane Fonda.
Yours truly caught the preview from just about the last row in the Eugene O'Neill Theater, and here's a little report: Fonda, who hasn't been on stage in about 40 years, is a commanding presence. She says she's been working on her vocal projection, but you can hear her just fine in the back. There probably isn't a bad spot anyway in the O'Neill. It's a Broadway house with excellent acoustics.
Fonda's castmates are superb, including Samantha Mathis, Colin Hanks, Susan Kellermann, Zach Grenier, and Don Amendolia. Kaufman has surrounded Fonda with pro's, and it shows.
The play is fascinating: Fonda plays a researcher who goes to Bonn, Germany looking into a key moment in the life of famed composer Ludwig von Beethoven. At the same time, she is suffering from a progressive illness. The play cuts back and forth between Beethoven, who has gone deaf, writing 33 variations on a piece, and Fonda's Katherine trying to hold on to her life.
Most new plays would be thrilled to be so far along with three weeks to go before opening night. If Saturday night's performance is any indication, Fonda, Kaufman et al will have a hit on their hands come March 9th. Backstage, Fonda's getting a lot of support from friends like Paley Center chief Pat Mitchell and writer Patti Bosworth, who's finishing up her Fonda biography. And outside the stage door, it seemed as though most of the audience was waiting to meet this real Hollywood star. Bravo!
THE TODAY SHOW
Monday, February 16th 2009
Jane Fonda talks about her new role on Broadway with Today Show's Meredith Vieria.
THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Hot Seats: Theater and comedy picks for this weekend
Friday, February 13th 2009
33 Variations. Jane Fonda stars in a new Broadway drama about a woman trying to solve a centuries-old mystery about the world's greatest composer. Her character's obsession takes her back in time to 19th-century Austria. Eugene O'Neill Theatre, 230 W. 49th St. (212-239-6200).
33 Variations Star Jane Fonda to Appear on 'Today Show' Feb. 16
Friday, February 13th 2009
Jane Fonda, star of 33 VARIATIONS, will conduct a live interview with Meredith Vieira, on NBC's "Today Show" on Monday, February 16th between 8:00-9:00AM on channel 4. Tune in to hear Jane discuss her return to Broadway after a 46 year absence.
David Binder (A Raisin in the Sun) presents the Tectonic Theater Project's production of 33 VARIATIONS, currently in previews, starring Jane Fonda, Samantha Mathis, Colin Hanks, Zach Grenier, Don Amendolia, Susan Kellermann, Erik Steele and Diane Walsh, written and directed by Moises Kaufman.
Jane Fonda heads a cast of eight in 33 VARIATIONS, a new American play written and directed by Moises Kaufman, about Katherine Brandt (Jane Fonda) trying to solve a centuries-old mystery about the world's greatest composer. Katherine's obsession takes her from present-day New York to 19th century Austria. As the music that consumes Katherine comes to life on stage, she races against time to find common ground with her daughter and to embrace the legacy of her own life.
Venezolano trae de vuelta a Fonda a Broadway
February 12, 2009
Jane Fonda recibió muchas propuestas para volver a Broadway, pero fue la obra del dramaturgo venezolano Moises Kaufman sobre las "33 variaciones" de Beethoven lo que finalmente la trajo a la Meca del teatro luego de mas de 45 años.
"Ninguna fue como esta obra. Es muy diferente, estilisticamente. Muy Moises Kaufman", declaró la legendaria actriz a la AP a pocos días de arrancar las funciones de preestreno, que comenzaron el lunes.
"(Kaufman) es como un veterano tejedor", anadió sentada con su perrita Tulea (de raza Coton De Tulear) en el regazo, luciendo aún espectacular a sus 71 años. "Enlaza hilos, une distintas hebras: Beethoven. 1819. Su obsesiva busqueda por terminar sus 33 variaciones. Y yo, una musicóloga contemporánea en su propia búsqueda obsesiva por entender por que habria escrito estas 33 variaciones de un vals insignificante en el momento cumbre de su carrera".
'33 Variations': Fonda's stage return a Beethoven mystery
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Opening night: March 9, Eugene O'Neill Theatre
Jane Fonda hasn't appeared in a Broadway show for nearly a half-century, but Moises Kaufman, author of "33 Variations," said it wasn't hard to bring her back.
"My dear friend Eve Ensler [author of 'The Vagina Monologues'] is a friend of Jane's, and she gave her my play to read. We had a meeting, and by the end, things were set."
The 71-year-old Fonda, in the midst of preparing for her first Broadway role since 1963, wasn't available for an interview, but she did respond to e-mail questions.
"[I decided to do this because] it is the right play at the right time," she wrote. "I'm excited, and I'm a little scared. I'm loving the process and the sense of becoming part of the New York theater community, and after 45 years, people have been amazingly welcoming." Read Full Article
THE BUZZ Feb 8, 2009
In "33 Variations," beginning previews Monday, Jane Fonda returns to Broadway as a musicologist pursuing a mystery about Beethoven. Fonda's character travels to Bonn to investigate why the composer wrote 33 variations on the "insignificant" waltz composed by Anton Diabelli.
For Moises Kaufman, the writer and director, it's one of those art-imitating-life scenarios. Kaufman ("The Laramie Project") had grown fixated on Beethoven's obsession and traveled to Germany in 2006 and 2007 as preparation for writing.
Beethoven's original sketches for the Diabelli Variation, the Ninth Symphony and the Mass are archived in a pressurized room four stories below ground at the Research Centre Beethoven-Archiv. Getting into that room, Kaufman says, "was like entering a heavily guarded bank."
A librarian brought Kaufman the books and opened them, then gave him gloves. Finally holding the same pages on which the German composer sketched out notes in pencil and ink "was something rather profound. ... If you're looking for something in the books, the librarian will guide you there," Kaufman remembers. "It's only some time later that you're actually allowed to touch them."
PLAYBILL.COM STAGE TO SCREENS: Colin Hanks
Feb 9, 2009
In 1819, music publisher Anton Diabelli wrote a waltz, and invited composers to create a variation on it. Although he initially dismissed the piece as trivial, Beethoven worked on it for years, writing 33 variations, formally known as "33 Variations on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli."
Moises Kaufman has written and directed a new drama, 33 Variations, which previews Feb. 9, and opens March 9, at the Eugene O'Neill, and it not only marks the Broadway debut of Colin Hanks, but also the return, after 46 years, of Jane Fonda, who plays Beethoven scholar Katherine Brandt.
At his audition to play a male nurse, Hanks was "deathly ill. I had a very bad cold, and came in doped-up on all sorts of over-the-counter medications. I don't remember much of it." When the meds started working, so did Hanks, who "did a little better" at his callback, and was cast as Mike Clark, "a very loving guy, sweet and sincere."
February 3, 2009 Type On, Golden Blogger: Reading Jane Fonda's Web Journal
Jane Fonda, seen here in 2005, has been blogging about her preparations for the Broadway play "33 Variations."
(Ruth Fremson/The New York Times)
As personal blogs go, this one is a pretty interesting read: Jane Fonda has begun her first-ever web journal to chronicle her return to Broadway, after a four-and-a-half-decade absence, as the star of Moises Kaufman's new play, "33 Variations."
The postings, which can be read here, are relatively unguarded for a celebrity blog: Ms. Fonda, 71, writes about her nerves returning to the stage, the ups-and-downs of rehearsals (the play begins preview performances on Monday), her singing lessons, and her experiences living in New York City for several months.
Playbill.com's Brief Encounter with Jane Fonda Feb 3, 2009
Jane Fonda has had 46 years to rest up for her triumphant Broadway return this year.
Fonda made her Broadway debut at the age of 22 in There Was a Little Girl, a 1960 play that isn't remembered for much other than nabbing the young actress a Tony Award nomination. She did four more plays before bidding Times Square adieu in 1963, after Strange Interlude. Dozens of films and a few Oscars have filled up the interim, making Jane as famous an actor in her day as her father Henry was in his. Now 71, Fonda has finally been persuaded to return to the stage her father loved so well, in Moises Kaufman's latest play, 33 Variations, which begins performances Feb. 9. In it, she plays Katherine Brandt, who is trying to solve a centuries-old mystery about the great classical composer, Beethoven. Fonda, with her beloved dog resting in her lap, talked to Playbill.com about coming full circle.
Mathis and Fonda form quite the theatrical trio with Susan Kellerman, who plays Katherine's new friend
and researcher, Dr. Gertie Ladenburger.
Photo Op: Hello, Jane Fonda! The Cast of 33 Variations Greets NYC
Jan 29, 2009
Fonda and Kaufman Will Chat About 33 Variations in Upcoming TimesTalks
33 Variations star Jane Fonda and the play's writer and director, Moises Kaufman, will take part in a Feb. 23 TimesTalks event.
The New York Times presents the staff-moderated series at The TimesCenter. The live interview with the acclaimed actress and playwright-director, which is entitled "Back on Broadway: Jane Fonda and Moises Kaufman," is scheduled for 7-8:30 PM.
Though audiences of the Broadway play "33 Variations" will most likely be focused on the star, Jane Fonda, she won't have the stage all to herself. The producers announced that the cast of the play, by Moises Kaufman, would be rounded out by Samantha Mathis (of "Grey's Anatomy"), above, and Colin Hanks (recently seen on "Mad Men"), as well as Zach Grenier, Don Amendolia, Susan Kellermann, Erik Steele and Diane Walsh. Ms. Fonda portrays a musicologist obsessed with the work of Beethoven in what will be her first appearance on Broadway in more than 45 years. The play is scheduled to begin previews at the Eugene O'Neill Theater on Feb. 9 and run March 9 through May 24.
Colin Hanks, Samantha Mathis & More Join Fonda in 33 VARIATIONS
Colin Hanks and Samantha Mathis are among the cast members who will join Jane Fonda in the upcoming Broadway production of Moises Kaufman's 33 Variations. The play will begin previews on February 9 and open on March 9 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, directed by the author. The limited engagement is scheduled to continue through May 24.
The last time Jane Fonda appeared on Broadway, John F. Kennedy was still in the White House and "Barbarella" was just a gleam in Roger Vadim's eye. On Monday it was announced that Ms. Fonda would make her return to Broadway, after a 46-year absence, in "33 Variations," a new play by Moises Kaufman that is scheduled to open in the winter of 2009. Ms. Fonda, 70, will star in the play as a musicologist studying the work of Beethoven; she was last seen on Broadway in a 1963 revival of "Strange Interlude." The show will also mark the Broadway playwriting debut of Mr. Kaufman, who was nominated for a Tony in 2004 for his direction of Doug Wright's "I Am My Own Wife."'