WFU teams up with professional theatre

Louis Goldstein

Louis Goldstein

Wake Forest theatre and Festival Stage of Winston Salem are partnering on a production of Moisés Kaufman’s new drama “33 Variations,” presented at Hanesbrands Theatre from Feb. 1 to Feb. 24.

The production is the result of a first-time partnership between Festival Stage and Wake Forest’s Department of Theatre and Dance. The cast includes Louis Goldstein, professor of music, Amy Shackleford, a junior theatre major, and Jim French, a recent Wake graduate, as well as five professional actors. The artistic and production staff also includes several faculty members and Wake Forest freshman Andrew Hayes, who serves as a production assistant backstage.

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“The opportunity for our students to participate in an extended project with working professionals and the chance to experience the demands of a professional career while still in school is immensely valuable to any young emerging artist, says John Friedenberg, director of University theatre. “Similarly, the ability for our faculty in both theatre and music to collaborate professionally with the artists and staff of Festival Stage in circumstances that allow our students to see us working as artists outside of an academic context adds to our teaching, and their education, in a unique and elegant way.”

The play follows the life of Dr. Katherine Brandt, a musicologist obsessed with uncovering a mystery behind Ludwig van Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations. As Beethoven copes with the progressive loss of his hearing, Katherine fights a diagnosis of ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Paralleling Beethoven’s own journey, Katherine struggles to complete her life’s work and reconcile with her estranged daughter before her illness overtakes her.

“33 Variations” combines the resources of the undergraduate school, the medical school and the community to explore the issues in the play. By bringing the stage into the classroom, theatre students learn to apply their education and training.

“We hope that this joint endeavor will enrich all of our work and can establish a foundation and pattern for future collaborations,” says Friedenberg.

Tickets may be purchased online at, by calling 336-747-1414 or visiting the Hanesbrands Theatre Box Office Monday-Friday, noon to 6 p.m., and one hour before each performance.