Beethoven and the Misfortune Cookies

By Matt Harris

Photo by Rob Flores

Ernest Harden Jr. in “Beethoven and the Misfortune Cookies.”

Beethoven and the Misfortune Cookies is a one-man show, based on the true story of Kabin Thomas, a professor of music at the University of Arkansas who struggles to come to terms with his identity after the school fires him.

Ernest Harden Jr. portrays Thomas, taking us on a journey through music history and his own past. Harden’s performance is emotional and hilarious, comprised of class lectures, flashbacks to childhood, and therapist sessions. The play, written by Joni Ravenna, explores race, censorship, family, and the question everyone asks themselves at some point: Who am I?

Harden’s performance shows the duality of Kabin Thomas’ personality. On one side, a well spoken, confident professor who is adored by the community for his over-the-top lectures, on the other, a man lost in his blurry past, unable to understand his childhood, family, and most importantly, himself.

After being let go from the university, Thomas contemplates life as a star and moves to L.A. to be in a reality show. After seeing that this does not complete him, he becomes introspective of himself, and examines the lives of Beethoven and Billie Holiday, two musicians who experienced difficult childhoods. In this comparison, Thomas finds both the problem and the answer. He has been measuring himself to others, placing expectations on himself that he will never meet, when instead he should take the ultimate satisfaction in being himself, a professor of music.

Beethoven and the Misfortune Cookies is playing at The MET Theatre located at 1089 N. Oxford Ave. Call for reservations.

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