Nerds are cool
Brüka’s Young Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a regular Milhouse, sort of a dweeb: stinky and lacking social skills and friends. Nerd, however, might be a better classification. Dweebs tend to lack brains or talent, while nerds flourish at intellectual tasks, like piano. Brüka Theatre’s production of Young Beethoven: An Ode to Joy stresses that nerds are different, and different is good.
Rodney Hurst plays the title dork as a squeaky-voiced and moody oddball. Beethoven’s grouchy father (a very animated Scott Beers) criticizes his son, who blocks out the railing and jibing by constantly immersing himself in his music. Ludwig pretends to play while local pianist Grant Levin, who is always onstage, almost as part of the scenery, plays real piano and plays well.
Costumes, movements and language are all exaggerated to keep even 3- to 5-year-old audience members rapt for the 40-minute running time. The audience interaction is fun for all ages. The show is intended for grades K-5, however, many of the jokes are funny on sophisticated as well as slapstick levels.
“Have you been stealing my chickens again?” asks the female baker (Rachael Lewis) who is the Beethoven family’s landlord.
“Yes, because they Bach, Bach, Bach,” says Beethoven.
“Should they be Haydn, Haydn, Haydn?” asks the male baker (Beers).
Beers is a riot to watch as he morphs from a ditzy snobby cheerleader into a Schwarzenegger-as- Terminator-esque schoolteacher; the fake, plastic muscle chest tied across his bulky sweatshirt is nice touch. Lewis is also a hoot. Her ludicrous Minnesotan accent playing the baker seems entirely appropriate.
As the play progresses, Beethoven grows up, always a recluse, always a nerd, and yet he becomes a musical idol. Young Beethoven is inspirational children’s theater at its best.