May 2009

33 Variations set

33 Variations set

I’m sure many have heard about Jane Fonda’s return to the Broadway stage in Moisés Kaufman’s 33 Variations.  The play is about a terminally ill musicologist who is desperate to uncover insight to Beethoven’s creativity by visiting the Beethovenhaus in Bonn where she can research Beethoven’s sketches for his Diabelli Variations.

What has gone unmentioned in the reviews is Derek McLane’s set.  To underscore the protagonist’s obsession with working in the archive of the Beethovenhaus, he has created a proscenium of nearly 200 Hollinger boxes.  (Sometimes the backdrop is also of mounds of Hollinger boxes.)  For this set, McLane has been nominated for a Tony Award.

What a great way to expose the ordinary Broadway viewer to the world of archives!

(In the picture above, furtively taken during curtain calls, you can see the leads at the bottom, from left to right:  Colin Hanks, Samantha Mathis, and Jane Fonda.  Boxes by Hollinger.)

For those of us concerned with outreach, this is a great way to introduce the user to the world of archival work.

Marquee of Cort Theatre on West 48th Street showing Manny''s Music

Marquee of Cort Theatre on West 48th Street showing Manny''s Music

I guess this could be seen as the pop music world’s equivalent of the Joseph Patelson Music House, about whose demise we blogged all too recently.  Now there’s a piece in this week’s New Yorker on the imminent closure of Manny’s Music in New York City.  Devotees have created a “Virtual Wall” to try to keep the vibe alive, but is it really the same thing?

Image credit: Christopher Frith photograph of Freak marquee (1998), NYPL Digital Gallery Image ID#400892

The Dance Heritage Coalition recently announced that its two-year project on fair use and copyright issues is now complete.  The results will be published in a booklet, Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use of Dance-related Materials: Recommendations for Librarians, Archivists, Curators, and Other Collections Staff.  Hard copies of the publication will be available after today by contacting DHC project director Libby Smigel, (202) 223-8392 or  A pdf version also will be available at