Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

The Other Mozart
Aux Dog Theatre
Review by Rob Spiegel


Photo Courtesy of the Aux Dog Theatre
Yes, Maria Anna (Nannerl) Mozart was wonderful, and her musical talent was a respectable second to her brother, and the solo performance by Samantha Hoefer is engaging, sometimes splendid, but that dress! That magnificent dress takes up the entire stage. It's an amazingly versatile prop, holding pockets of Nannerl's personal letters, toys, even musical instruments. It actually functions as a dress at the end of the play when she departs the stage. The dress was created by Magdalena Dabrowska and Miodrag Guberinic.

The Other Mozart is part of the Aux Dog's QSolo, their second annual solo performance festival. It is also the second solo performance the Aux Dog has presented from New York's recent Off-Broadway/festival scene (last October the Aux Dog presented Dark Stars, another outstanding solo performance). In both cases, the show arrived complete with original cast members.

Samantha Hoefer is the solo performer in the The Other Mozart at Aux Dog. She was the alternate performer behind the show's creator Silvia Milo in New York. When the production went on tour, Hoefer and Milo created two touring shows, each with one of the two original performers. The music during the performance was composed by Nathan Davis and Phyllis Chen, with additional music by Marianna Martines and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Nannerl Mozart was the older sister of Amadeus. Like her famous brother, she was a prodigy, keyboard virtuoso, and composer. She performed throughout Europe with her brother to similar acclaim, but her work and her story faded away over time, lost to history.

Hoefer brings Nannerl Mozart to life. We hear her story in all its heartbreak. The mid-18th century was not kind to talented women. While Nannerl displayed prodigious musical skills in childhood, finding a husband was still the top priority of her parents, and thus her musical education came in second to developing housekeeping skills. Once Amadeus was old enough to tour—in early childhood—Nannerl was mostly left behind with her mother for domestic training.

While these events may seem abhorrent to our 21st century sensibilities, to Nannerl, it was just a routine disappointment. She loved music, had significant performance and compositional skills, but she was a girl, so her musical life was rarely of major importance to her family. This repetitive disappointment is the theme of her life and the theme of the play. The title of the play says it all.

One of the things that keeps the play interesting through its downer narrative is the inventiveness of the dress as a prop. Hoefer steps out of the dress and picks up letters and various musical instruments to illustrate the story of her life. The original music is also strong. Almost industrial in its texture, the music by Davis and Chen grinds the story forward. While it's nearly painful, it's also very effective. And of course, we also get treated to the luscious sounds of Amadeus.

The show is a single act logging in at 75 minutes. The brevity helps, since the material is sad, even at its most compelling. Hoefer brings lightness and charm to the performance, refreshing it from its potential for dreariness.

Hats off to Vicky Liberatori for bringing The Other Mozart to Albuquerque. While we commonly get to see touring hit shows from Broadway at Popejoy Hall, it's rare that Albuquerque audiences get to see Off-Broadway plays presented with original cast members. What a treat.

The Other Mozart by Silvia Milo, starring Samantha Hoefer, and directed by Isaac Byrne, will run at the Aux Dog Theatre on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 2:00 pm through January 31, 2016. Tickets are $15 for online purchases and, $20 at the box office. Reserve tickets at auxdog.com or by calling 254-7716 or by visiting auxdog.com.


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