Passion Review Roundup

Judy Kuhn and
Ryan Silverman

Classic Stage Company’s Off-Broadway revival of the 1994 Broadway musical Passion, adapted from Ettore Scola’s 1981 film Passione d’Amore, has received generally positive reviews. For the record, the creative team includes James Lapine (book), Stephen Sondheim (lyrics, music), John Doyle (direction), Rob Berman (music direction), Ann Hould-Ward (costumes), Jane Cox (lights), Dan Moses Schreier (sound), Jonathan Tunick (orchestrations), Angelina Avallone (makeup), and J. Jared Janas, Rob Greene (hair). The cast includes Stephen Bogardus (Col. Ricci), Jeffry Denman (Lt. Barri, Mother), Melissa Errico (Clara), Jason Michael Evans (Pvt. Augenti, Mistress), Ken Krugman (Lt. Torasso, Father), Judy Kuhn (Fosca), Orville Mendoza (Sgt. Lombardi), Tom Nelis (Dr. Tambourri), Will Reynolds (Maj. Rizzolli, Ludovic), and Ryan Silverman (Giorgio).

Ben Brantley (N.Y. Times): Mr. Doyle’s Passion – which features a perfectly balanced triumvirate of stars in Ryan Silverman, Judy Kuhn and Melissa Errico – comes across as a pulsing collective fever dream. And it reminds us that out of such dreams a startling clarity can emerge, almost painful in its acuteness. … The production rises and falls on its Giorgio, and Mr. Silverman gives us one to stand in memory. … This is a performance of risk-taking, unconditional emotional commitment. … I didn’t stop to think that I was listening to songs. I was hearing thought. And at moments I was hearing a distillation of pure emotion.

Joe Dziemianowicz (Daily News): The new production … is just plain gorgeous – a feast for the ears and the eyes. No, this vision by Scottish director John Doyle doesn’t smooth out the jagged edges and heavy-handedness of Lapine’s story about a hag and two hotties. But between the ace cast, including its three leads and ensemble, and Doyle’s intimate and elegant staging, flaws recede. … The spare but sleek production, including Ann Hould-Ward’s period costumes and Jane Cox’s painterly lighting, keeps the focus on the music and the cast uniformly delivers. … Passion is the first production from CSC’s Musical Theatre Initiative. Impressive enough to inspire love at first sight.

Erik Haagensen (Back Stage): John Doyle’s intimate chamber production at Classic Stage Company is largely unsuccessful. … On Doyle’s dull, nearly bare unit set (staging Passion without a bed makes as much sense as doing The Music Man without a band), the characters are constantly pacing pointlessly about to music that originally accompanied set changes, attenuating the drama. … Silverman possesses the requisite good looks and sings strongly, but there is little detail to the performance, and the actor is utterly unpersuasive in Giorgio’s change of heart, missing the moment entirely. … Dry, over-intellectualized, and slackly paced, this is a Passion pretty much devoid of it.

Brian Scott Lipton (Theater Mania): Wisely, Doyle has scaled back the piece in numerous ways to better fit CSC’s more intimate space. … The production’s linchpin – and revelation – is Silverman. No doubt, his matinee-idol looks are perhaps the key reason why two women are so attracted to him while his fellow soldiers despise him. Ultimately, though, it’s his extraordinary ability as an actor to navigate Giorgio’s tricky emotional transitions … that make his character so compelling. … While it’s possible some people still might not find this musical’s denouement convincing, I suspect most audiences will fall head over heels in love with this Passion.

Terry Teachout (Wall St. Journal): This Passion is memorable in every way, starting with Judy Kuhn’s quietly fierce performance as the show’s love-besotted anti-heroine. It will be a long time before we see another staging of Passion that speaks so eloquently of the black mysteries of the human heart. … Mr. Silverman is not quite up to the mark set by his colleagues, but he is very good. … Mr. Doyle and Classic Stage Company have given us a great production of a great work of theatrical art. It will move you to the marrow.

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