- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 22, 2002

OPENING

• Some Like It Hot: The Musical Wolf Trap Filene Center. Tony Curtis stars in a musical version of the classic film about two men who dress in drag to evade the mob. Opens Tuesday. 703/218-6500.

• The Winter's Tale Shakespeare Theatre. Shakespeare's story of obsession, rage and redemption crosses two generations of parents and children. Opens Tuesday. 202/547-1122.

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.

• A Little Night Music Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater ***. Based on Ingmar Bergman's lovely "Smiles of A Summer Night" and set in turn-of-the-century Sweden, this is the last of the six home-grown productions of the Kennedy Center's Sondheim Celebration. It is perhaps Stephen Sondheim's most lilting and bucolic musical, using the three-quarter rhythms of the waltz to express the various ups and downs of three delightfully pixillated romances among the Swedish upper classes. This production is fine, but not particularly soaring. It never really catches fire or takes you to greater heights. After so much magic and transcendent beauty, the Sondheim festival is ending on a pleasant, yet subdued note. Through Sunday. 202/467-4600. 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 tomorrow. 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. File review by Nelson Pressley.MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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