- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 1, 2002

OPENING
The Bride YBS Theatre Company. A young woman struggles with daily life after being sold into slavery and forced to marry. Opens tonight at the Warehouse Theatre. 703/846-0362.
A Little Night Music Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Three mismatched couples including an actress, a divinity student and a maid struggle with love and desire. Part of the Sondheim Celebration. Opens tomorrow. 202/467-4600.
Osaram and Sarabi Howard University Ira Aldridge Theater. A contemporary, musical spin on Cinderella, set in East Africa. 7:30 p.m. Opens tomorrow, runs through Saturday. 202/635-1863.

NOW PLAYING
Crazy Love Old Town Theater **1/2. Mark Anderson thinks comedy today is too raunchy. His antidote is this humorous celebration of the differences between men and women that illustrates the value of long-term commitment. Mr. Anderson, who plays a psychologist, and co-producer John Branyan, who plays his patient, share the stage for most of the production. Gilly Conklin plays the nurse. The whole show is essentially musical banter and a couple of monologues. But these guys are good at it. Through Aug. 31. 703/535-8022. Reviewed by Jon Ward.
The Laramie Project
Olney Theatre Center for the Arts **1/2. If literary awards were given for good intentions, this docudrama by Moises Kaufman would be a shoo-in. The play fairly glows with earnestness and altruism. It grew out of a trip to Laramie, Wyo. (the town where Matthew Shepard, a young gay man, was brutally tortured and murdered in 1998) by Mr. Kaufman and his New York-based Tectonic Theatre Project. The play is based on more than 200 interviews with the people of Laramie and details the efforts of the playwright and his writers to talk things out with the citizens, as well as record their own feelings and impressions. The production, directed with grace and simplicity by Jim Petosa, has powerful moments. The cast does an excellent job portraying the Laramie residents working through their reactions to the murder. Yet the Olney cast also has to portray the New Yorkers portraying the locals. Confusing? You bet. It also dilutes the message. The show's length, more than two and a half hours, helps it descend into repetition and tedium. Finally, why is this a play? The cause may be better served through another medium. Through Aug. 11. 301/924-3400. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
Passion
Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater ***1/2. Stephen Sondheim takes the beauty and the beast concept to a deep, creepy level in his gorgeous, grotesque 1994 musical, "Passion," which director Eric Schaeffer has revived with searing forthrightness and emotion. The musical, based on the novel "Fosca" by Amino Tarchetti and the movie "Passion D'amore" by Ettore Scola, takes place in 1863, in Italy in the Romantic era. It explores the more disturbing aspects of love a dangerous, annihilating love of a sort that sucks the air out of the room. It isn't pretty. Obsession and stalking rarely bring out the best in a person, yet in the case of "Passion" you could make the case that the young soldier Giorgio (Michael Cerveris) was never more alive than when forced to love the wretched Fosca (Judy Kuhn in a brilliant turn). The power of Fosca's shameless love changes him irrevocably. It is a jolt to see something this twisted on the musical stage. But Mr. Sondheim imbues the musical with a gorgeous, soaring score that is operatic in its heightened emotions, and Mr. Schaeffer has assembled an outstanding cast. Through Aug. 23. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
Shear Madness
Kennedy Center Theater Lab **. This corny, hokey tourist trap now in its second decade is doubly maddening because the Kennedy Center displays it as art to the cultural center's unsuspecting pilgrims. The audience-participation murder-mystery farce (set in a Georgetown hair salon) is well-played, though, when the actors refrain from mugging and cracking up one another. Continues indefinitely. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Nelson Pressley.
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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