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November 3, 2017


Cervantes to appear in 33 Variations at The Ponca Playhouse


Cervantes to appear in 33 Variations at The Ponca PlayhouseStudents at Cowley College know Marlys Cervantes as the Humanities Department Chair and creative writing instructor. Many would be surprised to learn that Cervantes is also an accomplished actress who will appear in the upcoming Ponca Playhouse production of 33 Variations on November 10-12 and 17-19 in Ponca City, OK.

Cervantes has been involved with The Ponca Playhouse since the mid 1980s, and this is her 23rd role in productions. 33 Variations is a drama about Beethoven by Moises Kaufman and is directed by David Guinn.

Cervantes landed the role of Dr. Katherine Brandt, a musicologist who is studying a particular segment of Beethoven's work. The drama moves between scenes in the 1800s and present day, where Cervantes’ character comes into play.

Ludwig van Beethoven, late in his life, took an unremarkable waltz theme written by Anton Diabelli and used it to create one of his greatest masterpieces for piano: the Diabelli Variations. Two centuries later, Katherine Brandt, a musicologist in the early stages of ALS, struggles to discover why such a genius would spend so much energy working with mediocre source material. The parallels and contrasts between Katherine's life and Beethoven's fuel this drama as it shifts between the past and present.

“The historical facts the drama is based on are really interesting. However, what drew me to audition for this role is that, at the same time she is researching, Katherine is dealing with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease, and it gets progressively worse throughout the show,” Cervantes said. “My maternal grandmother, Ruby Weis, most likely suffered from this disease. Even though it had been discovered as a disease years earlier, it wasn't diagnosed much at that time because there was, and still is, really no cure. I remember our family taking her to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to try to find help for her condition. To build the character, I've merged my time with two dear people from my life, my grandma and a dear friend who actually suffers from MS and moves between walker and wheelchair as she continues to live her life. I feel honored to represent women who continue to live as best as they can in spite of such debilitating diseases.” 

Cervantes has had many challenging roles over the years. One of her most memorable was The Curious Savage because the production was eventually taken to contest, won the State competition and was performed at Regionals.

“I love that challenge of creating a character and bringing her to life on stage,” Cervantes said.

33 Variations Cast List:

Marlys Cervantes - Katherine
Larry King - Beethoven
Allegra Sage - Clara
Mark Thorton - Schindler
Blake Brown - Mika
Rebecca Marsh - Gertie
John Maddox - Diabelli