02. July 2010 · Comments Off on Oh Those Silly Cows! · Categories: News, Theatre

I guess cows are fickle. Or maybe they are multi-faceted and not only love opera singers and classical music, but are also into theatre.

They tasked their local Changeling Theatre Company to entertain the animals with quirky renditions of works by the 16th century playwright.

In fact parts of the humorous “The Merry Wives of Windsor play,” about a man’s seduction of two women, led to a significant increase in milk yields.

“We selected scenes from the play we felt to be lyrical and relaxing,” said the artistic director, Rob Forknall. “It started off as a rather a bizarre experiment after I was talking to a farmer about whether Shakespeare would have the same effect on cows as classical music.”

To their surprise, their theory indeed rang true and it was a win-win for all involved.

“Since then we’ve done several rehearsals with the cows,” said Forknall. “It saves us having to book rehearsal space and the farmer’s very pleased to get more milk.”


Of course this is good in so many ways. Not only can classical musicians get gigs with the cows, but we could do something like, say, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Mendelssohn incidental music. Or perhaps The Tempest with Sibelius or Sullivan.

Ahhhh … sweet music!

Opus is a new play, being done soon by Theatreworks:

Eliot: “I know what ma non troppo means.”

Alan: “Well that was clearly troppo. It sounds like we’re smothering a baby.”

No, Davis and the other actors don’t really play instruments on stage. But they have worked very hard to make it look as if they are doing so.

“I think it would be the greatest if I could play a violin,” said Davis. “I am very humbled even just to replicate the bowing.”

“We have a fabulous quartet consultant,” said McDonough, “Kris Yenney. She has worked in our orchestra. She put together a recording of a string quartet so the actors can see what it looks like. It’s incredibly intricate. It helps with understanding the soul of how the music works.”

The play, says Davis, is full of “intense moments of living.


I know Kris! Fine cellist, and fun person, too!

Hmmm. Maybe I should check out the play. I’ve attended Theatreworks … I think twice, but maybe it was only once. I know I saw Sondheim there … what the heck was it, though? Let’s see, I’ve seen “Into the Woods” and “Follies” live. I saw a high school production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”, a fabulous UC Irvine production of “Sunday in the Park with George”, and an awful (truly embarrassing) college production of “Merrily We Roll Along”. I’ve played in “Sweeney Todd”, “A Little Night Music” and “Pacific Overtures”. Ramble ramble … oh! It was “Into the Woods”, I believe, that Theatreworks did. And it was great. So maybe I’ll get back there and see this play about musicians. I have to confess, though, that I’m always leery of movies about musicians, and a play might be even more difficult for me to get into. And the “Sex, Drugs and Classical Music” tag doesn’t exactly draw me in. Read that already. (Hi Blair!)

And … here’s Kris!:

Jane Fonda, 70, will return to Broadway for the first time in 46 years in Tectonic Theatre Project’s production of Moises Kaufman’s “33 Variations.” The production, to be directed by Kaufman, also represents his Broadway debut as a playwright.

Fonda first appeared on the Broadway stage in the 1960 play “There Was a Little Girl,” for which she earned a Tony nomination. She also played Broadway in a 1963 revival of “Strange Interlude.”

Kaufman’s play, which tells the story of musicologist Katherine Brandt (Fonda) and her quest to discover why Ludwig von Beethoven became obsessed with a trivial waltz, was presented — without Fonda — at La Jolla Playhouse in April.

Read here.

So … dumb me (no surprise, eh?) … what “trivial waltz” was Beethoven obsessed with? I guess I’ll go google that. Or maybe it’s just fiction. Guess I’ll go find out.

[short time lapse]

Okay …

After attending a play one night, the prominent playwright-director Moisés Kaufman visited a Manhattan record store, looking for a CD to add to his extensive classical music collection.

Playwright-director Moisés Kaufman and Zach Grenier (as Beethoven, left) joked during a rehearsal.
The clerk suggested Beethoven’s “Diabelli Variations,” a masterwork Kaufman knew little about. So the clerk explained how Beethoven became obsessed with an insignificant little waltz by the music publisher Anton Diabelli. And after initially refusing to compose a variation, as Diabelli had requested, Beethoven changed his mind and composed what turned out to be one of the greatest sets of variations ever written.

“As soon as he told me the story, I was smitten,” recalls Kaufman, who purchased Alfred Brendel’s highly-regarded recording. “Why did Beethoven write the variations? That’s the question that gnawed at me. I knew I wanted to write a play.”

Okay. Got it.