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.