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EDITOR: Andrea Kirk
Michele Hunter
Mark Share
Matt Share
Josh Herz

By Ali Tobia


TRIO, by Israela Margalit, currently making its U.S. debut at the Lounge Theater in Hollywood, chronicles the relationships between iconic composer Robert Schumann, his illustrious wife, Clara Schumann, and the dynamic young composer Johannes Brahms. The fictionalized drama begins with Brahms’ introduction to the Schumanns and follows the characters with emotional precision as Robert deteriorates into mental illness and Clara and Brahms develop an intensely romantic bond. The play is threaded with affecting works by the two revered composers.

TRIO is a fictionalized narrative; the true relationship between Mrs. Schumann and Brahms is unknown. However, with an exceptionally experienced cast of actors, a solid and intelligent director, and a notable and artistic playwright, the mad and passionate romance between the Schumanns and Brahms is brought to full life.

Bjorn Johnson stars in TRIO as the robustly talented but dwindling egoist, Robert Schumann. Johnson’s interpretation of the Robert’s character is vigorous and tragic. Johnson’s Robert Schumann is confrontational, as he thunderously blames his fading career on the sad state of music, and simultaneously pitiful, as he languishes unkemptly in the hermitage of his music den. As the play develops further, Johnson brings facets of innocence and mortal fear to his performance of Robert Schumann and creates a complex persona. Johnson’s bio would give anybody a tip that he is an adroit and engaging actor. Having worked as a director, actor, and fight coordinator with extensive Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Regional Theater credits, Johnson can also seen on countless television shows. He has taught at The Juilliard School, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and Circle-In-The-Square. Bjorn Johnson is an actor of notable professionalism and documented experience and his performances are accomplished to that end.

Likewise, the equally featured cast members of TRIO, Meghan Maureen McDonough, Jeremy Shranko, Brian Normoyle, and Peter Colburn, posses an equivalent professional panache and solid acting background. Meghan Maureen shines as Clara Schumann and has performed in Chicago with the Mercury Theater, Irish Reparatory, and the Steppenwolf. Jeremy Shranko takes a very boyish approach to the character of Johannes Brahms and the result is actually rather elegant. Brian Normoyle posses a very watchable quality. Peter Colburn is fantastically magnetic and has acted on stage for over 30 years. Though Colburn plays the less significant roles in the play, his shrewd talent is truly to be noted as a mastery of the subtle and compelling.

Director Rick Spark brings intelligence and sophistication to his work on TRIO. He matches the writing with appropriate action. In scenes where Robert and Brahms consort, there is a tone of rambling joy and abundant good humor. The actors on stage are mobile and their bodies move swiftly and gracefully in a waltz like manner. Sparks apt handiwork gives the play a sense of drive and urgency- the interactions between characters exist to move the story forward to its conclusion.

Of most significant note is TRIO playwright, Israela Margalit. Margalit is a celebrated concert pianist with a career that has encompassed performances with 50 major orchestras. She came to playwriting late in life, but, from the beginning, has experienced Eifel Tower-like success. Her writing debut, a one hour television program on the life and career of Clara Schumann, evolved into one of the 10 best German television programs of that year. Shortly after, she premiered TRIO in Moscow to a ten- minute standing ovation and a subsequent five year run. Margalit’s other plays have premiered at the Tribeca Playhouse, (New York), and Access Theater, (New York). Her relationship to the content of TRIO is personal, having performed the music of Schumann and Brahms extensively in concerts and recordings. This brings a familiar element to the writing and draws the audience into a profoundly intimate world.

TRIO, at the Lounge Theater in Hollywood, is the work of professionals. Heavy resumes and exceptional reputations grace every facet of the production. Even the designers, Joel Daavid, Sharell Martin, Jeremy Pivnick, and Robert Arturo Ramirez, bubble up from the fertile world of consistent professional work. The U.S. premier of TRIO is refined, polished, and elegant, in due to the great experience with which the production was assembled.

TRIO runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until April 10th. The shows begin at 8 pm on Friday and Saturday and at 7pm on Sunday. The Lounge Theater is located at 6201 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90038. Tickets are $25 General Admission, $12.50 Seniors & Students.

-- Ali Tobia (eyespylareviews[at]gmail.com)



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