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November 1, 2016
Review: The Other Mozart
Jody Christopherson in The Other Mozart. Photo by Michael Niederman.
Jody Christopherson in The Other Mozart. Photo by Michael Niederman.

The Other Mozart is astounding from start to finish, with one actor, one set and a trove of history and humor that tells the story of Nannerl Mozart, the oft-forgotten elder sister of world-famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Visually stunning and utterly captivating, Jody Christopherson delivers a winning performance as Nannerl (and the family members who talk down to her and stifle her dream). Nannerl is herself an accomplished composer and musician who tours Europe with her father and little brother "Wolfie" until her parents and society deem she has reached "marriageable age." Being too accomplished will prevent her from attracting a husband, and so Nannerl is pressured to put down the clavichord and pick up the embroidery circle instead.

Nannerl, bored and lonely after being abandoned emotionally and physically by her father, talks of a dream denied; her story is all the more heartbreaking for her resilience in a time and place that will allow her nothing for being born a female, and an impoverished one at that. Although music and fashions have changed drastically since the 1700s, many of the messages to women have not, and that is perhaps the greatest draw of The Other Mozart: the audience is watching someone whose world is not that far removed from their own.

"Couldn't a little bit of it have been mine?" Nannerl asks plaintively. And you want to answer her, "It should have been."

Sylvia Milo's creation and writing, coupled with Isaac Byrnes' direction, is transcendental. The set is a wondrous 18-foot dress, designed by Magadalena Dabrowska, that fills the stage and upon which rest all the props used by Christopherson. Janice Orlandi adds an important layer as Period Style Movement Director; her work makes the audience feel they are firmly entrenched in 18th-century Austria with Nannerl. The musical score, composed by Nathan Davis and Phyllis Chen, and recently nominated for a Grammy, adds the perfect touch to this multi-sensory performance.

The rotating cast is made up of creator/writer Sylvia Milo, Jody Christopherson, Samantha Hoefer and Daniela Galli. I have no doubt that all the actresses are of the same high caliber as Milo and Christopherson, and that every performance is as profound and excellent as the one I had the pleasure of seeing.


Connected Post:

Review: AMP

By Saima Huq

AMP is an hour-long multimedia show that jumps through time as writer and actor Jody Christopherson tells the story of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, and how she came to write such a tale, interspersed with text from Lord Byron, her husband poet Percy Shelley, and her parents, authors William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Inspired by Luigi Galvani’s 1780 discovery of bioelectricity, when he caused a frog’s leg muscles to twitch with an electrical spark, the 19-year-old Shelley is galvanized to write Frankenstein as she recounts her life story, a tale involving her British feminist mother, who died shortly after her birth in 1797, and how she spends her life chasing “the love I] almost had.” She goes on to detail her life, including the troubled relationship with her stepmother, a neighbor whom her father married because “it was the only thing he could do”. She has a better relationship with her stepsister, Clare Clairmont, who goes on to marry the poet Lord Byron. The live action on stage is spliced with a film of a woman (also played by Christopherson) in an asylum in 1952 Massachusetts, when they practiced electroshock therapy. The unnamed woman played the cello and was …Read more

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