33 Variations

Comedy Theatre

7th Mar - 17th Mar, 2019

33 Variations

By Moisés Kaufman

Director: Gary Abrahams 

Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Golden Globe winning legend Ellen Burstyn makes her Australian stage debut in a new production of Moisés Kaufman's acclaimed Tony nominated play 33 Variations.

Known for her iconic performances in classics such as The Exorcist, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (Oscar and BAFTA winner for Best Actress) and The Last Picture Show, a tour de force in Requiem for a Dream (marking her 6th Oscar nomination), and memorable roles in How to Make an American Quilt and Netflix's hit series House of Cards, Ellen Burstyn is widely regarded as one of her generation's greatest actors. In a staggering career spanning six decades, she's given an unknown Martin Scorsese his second job (directing Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore), joined the list of just 24 actors in history who have won the "triple crown" (Oscar, Emmy and Tony), become Artistic Director of the renowned Actors Studio in New York, and been described by Requiem for a Dream director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan and Noah) as "the greatest artist I have ever worked with."

In 33 Variations, Ellen plays the brilliant Katherine Brandt, a musicologist deeply devoted to her study of Beethoven's Diabelli Variations. Featuring stunning performances of Beethoven's masterpiece, the play moves between Beethoven's creation of the work and Katherine's journey to understand the composer's obsessive drive. Meanwhile, Katherine's own single-mindedness has led to a strained relationship with her often overlooked daughter Clara. Combining 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.


"Deeply moving... Music lovers and theatre lovers alike won't be disappointed by this affecting piece." The Hollywood Reporter

"A potent family drama wrapped inside a fascinating historical mystery." Variety

"(Lisa) McCune is both pained and generous as the unfairly chastened Clara, and her chemistry with Toby Truslove (adorable as Katherine's nurse and Clara's eventual boyfriend, Mike) is one of the pure joys of the play." - ABR

★★★★½ from ABR "exquisitely poignant... a star turn from a bona-fide star."

★★★★★ from Arts Hub "this meld of drama and music will move and transport you."

★★★★½ from The Age  "race to see Moises Kaufman's 33 Variations... Burstyn is a revelation... Music and theatre lovers will find 33 Variations sublime, and Australian theatre should strive for more commercial productions like this one."

★★★★½ from the Herald Sun - "Academy-award winner Ellen Burstyn is outstanding... It's a wonderfully stimulating and generous play, combining humour, compassion, wit and abundant musicological insight. And it'll delight connoisseurs of classical music and intelligent drama alike."

Original Cast

Katherine Brandt: Ellen Burstyn