Wednesday, March 9, 2011



I love to go out to dinner and a show, or in our case this past Saturday, a show and dinner.

Since it opened on Broadway, Richard’s been waiting to see “33 Variations” a play featuring Beethoven and starring Jane Fonda.  He loves Beethoven.  He relates to Beethoven.  They have the same birthday and, as many of you know, both have ‘hearing loss.’  Over the years we’ve amassed an amazing collection of Beethoven records and dvds, books, busts and paintings displayed throughout our library and on the bookcase in our dining room.  So… when the play came to the Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center (LA’s Lincoln center complex), Richard was thrilled.  I was thrilled for him and looking forward to seeing Jane’s Tony nominated performance.

Just one snag – unless we’re in the first 5 rows, Richard misses too much of the dialogue – which makes the whole theater experience frustrating and a waste of money.  During the show’s limited run, he searched and searched for tickets, but came up empty handed.  Not a ticket was to be had in the first 5 rows and the show was closing over the weekend.  But Richard refused to give up and gave it one last shot.  Voila – two tickets in the 4th row for the very last Saturday matinee!  Score!

To stay on budget, we decided we’d come home for dinner after the show.  But you know that old saying… “the best laid plans…”

Though the show got decent, but not great, reviews in New York, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.  Jane was very good as a music professor suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease and Zach Grenier (‘The Good Wife’) was excellent as Beethoven.  The play darts back and forth between the present and the past w/ great ease as Fonda’s dying character tries to solve the mystery of why Beethoven spent his dying years working on what are now known as the Diabelli Variations (33 of them!) for a mere 80 ducats.  The set, made up of moveable panels of sheet music, was incredible, and for the record, Ms. Fonda has the perkiest breasts of any woman alive over 70 which she heartbreakingly bared during a scene where she’s being x-rayed and MRI’d.  Weird reference, I know, but it was rather startling and almost took me out of the play which was funny, emotional and poignant.  The applause was thunderous. 

We left the theater exhilarated.  I didn’t want to ‘just go home.’  On the Music Center’s plaza by its ‘dancing waters’ fountain is the Pinot Grill, a wonderful open air, fine-dining restaurant and bar.  It was almost 5:00, the cocktail hour, and a martini seemed just the thing.  We sat at the oval bar and chatted w/ some other theater goers as I sipped my very dry (is there any other kind?) vodka martini w/ two olives.  Richard had a glass of 2008 Mas Carlot, Rhone from France.  My martini was ‘mighty fine,’ though Richard thought the Rhone was just OK.

It was a beautiful evening and as the sun began to set and I finished my drink, I did not want to go home.  So as the Music Center/restaurant’s twinkling lights were turned on, we took a table in the restaurant.  There goes the budget.

I switched to chardonnay and ordered a glass of Napa 2009 Rutherford Ranch.  Buttery w/o being too heavy.  Perfect.  Richard tried the France 2009 Tortoise Creek “Les Oliviers”, Pinot Noir.  He liked it.  We decided to share the beef carpaccio salad made up of thinly sliced beef, capers, quail eggs (they’re so adorable), red onions, crostini olive tapenade (loved every bite) and the ‘Speck & Arugula’ wood oven-fired pizza made w/ Buffalo mozzarella, smoked prosciutto and baby arugula.  To quote my mom, “Divine!”

It was dark when we left sated and happy.  Yes, our budget was in shambles, but our spirits were soaring.  Beethoven and Jane Fonda were worth every ducat.

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