Saturday, September 3, 2011
I wonder then what he would say about DOMA Theater Company’s decision to break up the musical into two acts. Selling refreshments is standard operating procedure at a theatre’s intermission and the bartender even had his bio in the program (?), but in this instance, all it did was compromise what sexual tension the ensemble had built before being dropped at the break. I would have asked the two gentlemen sitting next to me for their opinion but sadly I could not, as they didn't return after intermission.
Set in 19th century Italy and based on Ettore Scola’s film Passione d'Amore, it follows the romantic entanglements of Giorgio (Nathaniel Reynolds), a young army caption, his beautiful but married mistress Clara (Melissa Cook), and Fosca (Lindsay Zana), the sickly cousin of his superior officer (Duane Allen Thomas).
At the top of the show, Giorgio and Clara are found in the throes of a highly-charged bedroom scene singing of the happiness they’ve found in each other’s arms. It is a seduction begun from a glance in the park that they now cannot live without, but when she learns he is being sent to a post outside the city she is devastated. Though a long distance affair is not what she had in mind, they agree to continue their erotic liaison though a series of passionate letters.
Once at his new post, the isolated and somewhat out of place soldier slowly befriends the unfortunate Fosca, who turns him into the object of her obsessive desire. “You and I are different,” she says. “They hear drums - we hear music.” Though sympathetic to her situation, he feels no attraction in return. The tragic events that take place in the story lead Giorgio to eventually understand the repercussions of a love realized too late.
Reynolds and Cook are easily up to the vocal and emotional demands of their roles but Zana’s performance could have been much more potent with a stronger directorial hand. Sondheim has fashioned a dramatically haunting score and Lapine has laid out a psychological journey that director Marco Gomez seemed not to understand, his staging lacking finesse at almost every turn. Thomas is well cast as the Colonel, and both he and Corinne DeVries have lovely voices and several nice dramatic turns, but others among the ensemble were unable to be understood and clearly uncomfortable onstage. What a missed opportunity.
DOMA Theater Company’s Passion runs through September 11 at the MET Theatre in Hollywood. Click Here for tickets and more information.
Photo: Nathaniel Reynolds and Melissa Cook
Credit: J. Hawke
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