Top to Bottom: Annette McCulloch, Andrew Newton and Deborah Mae Hill.
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
Directed by Michael Drury
Musical Director Doug Jones
Review by Annette Skaggs
Entire contents copyright © 2015 Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved.
If we know anything about Musical Theater, we know that Sondheim is one of its Kings. With shows like Into the Woods, Company and Sweeney Todd, he has shaped the Great White Way as we now know it. His 1994 Tony Award-winning musical Passion is no exception. And when you can place great talent into the roles it only enhances the experience.
Passion, based upon the 19th Century book Fosca, by Tarchetti, is about a fictionalized affair between a soldier and an epileptic woman. The book was made into the movie Passione d’Amore, by Ettore Scola and upon watching that film Sondheim found his inspiration for Passion. He reached out to James Lapine, a frequent collaborator and great playwright in his own right and the two created the romantic musical.
The married Clara (Deborah Mae Hill), and the handsome Captain Giorgio (Andrew Newton), are having an affair in Milan, until orders come that he must serve in provincial Italy. While there under the command of Colonel Ricci (Ken Robinson), he meets the Colonel’s cousin, the sickly Fosca (Annette McCulloch). The kindly Captain offers to share his cache of books for Fosca to read. The camp’s doctor, Dr. Tambourri (Dale Strange), shares with Giorgio Fosca’s ailments and suggests a cordial friendship. Fosca falls deeply for Giorgio, who is still madly in love with Clara. Giorgio writes Fosca letting her know that he does not share the same feelings, sung in the haunting “Trio”. Soon Fosca falls gravely ill and, being a dutiful soldier who saves lives, Giorgio attends her bedchamber whereupon she apologizes for her behavior and asks Giorgio for a favor: write a letter expressing his affection for her.
Fosca recuperates, but her unrequited love for Giorgio intensifies. She appears before Giorgio in unexpected places, which angers Giorgio (“Is This What You Call Love?”). He soon succumbs to a fever and takes sick leave and visits Milan and Clara (“Forty Days”). While there they realize that they no longer have the fire that they once did and they part ways (“Just Another Love Story”). Upon Giorgio’s return to the camp the Colonel discovered the letter that Giorgio dictated and challenges him to a duel. That night Giorgio visits Fosca and reveals his love for her (“No One Has Ever Loved Me”). The duel takes place and….
Deborah Mae Hill’s Clara is both elegant and sneaky. Her vocal ability suits the role. Annette McCulloch shines as Fosca. She handles the duplicitousness that her character sometimes exudes with aplomb. Andrew Newton’s Giorgio has all of the characteristics of what one could picture upon reading the story: nice looking, courteous and a lovely voice. Despite a couple of glitches (prop use too soon and tripped lines) Ken Robinson and Dale Strange were strong supporting performances.
Rounding out the cast, the ensemble of officers provided some of the fun harmonies that make your ears happy and make you smile.
With a great band including some notable Louisville musicians like Anna Blanton and Jamie Bagshaw, well, you are in good hands.
Well done Michael Drury, cast, and crew. Love comes to us in mysterious ways.
September 18, 19, 21, 24, 25, 26 @ 7:30pm
September 20 & 27 @ 5:30pm, September 26 @ 2:00pm
At The Henry Clay Theatre
604 Third StreetLouisville, KY 40202
Annette Skaggs is a heavily involved Arts Advocate here in Louisville and freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York Opera and Northwestern University. She has a 25+ year knowledge of the Classical Arts.