"So Much Happiness": Sondheim & Lapine's Passion, Directed by John Doyle, Will Play Off-Broadway in 2013

News   "So Much Happiness": Sondheim & Lapine's Passion, Directed by John Doyle, Will Play Off-Broadway in 2013
Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Tony Award-winning Passion, the musical of romantic obsession, will return to New York City in 2013 in the intimate setting of Classic Stage Company's 199-seat home in the East Village, the not-for-profit company announced on Jan. 13. Tony Award winner John Doyle — who gave fresh life to Company and Sweeney Todd on Broadway — will direct.

Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

CSC has been acclaimed in recent years for its productions of plays by Anton Chekhov and for David Ives' Venus in Fur and New Jerusalem, works with roots abroad. Passion, a 1994 Tony winner for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book, is drawn from Ettore Scola's Italian film "Passione d'Amore," and concerns an ugly, broken, grasping woman named Fosca who pursues a handsome soldier, Giorgio, who is already in love with beautiful but married Clara. The musical had a relatively short life on Broadway, but has since gained stature as a unique musical rumination on the nature of love.

CSC performances on East 13th Street will begin in February 2013. The production is not expected to employ Doyle's signature directorial approach of actors playing their own instruments; Doyle does not exclusively use that idea for his work.

"It is a great, great honor to have the opportunity to revisit this extraordinary musical by Sondheim and Lapine," CSC artistic director Brian Kulick said in a statement. "I am particularly excited to have the inimitable John Doyle stage this masterwork of American musical theatre in our intimate space."

This will be the first full-production revival of Passion in New York since its 1994-95 run on Broadway, although there have been semi-staged concert versions (at Lincoln Center and in an Actors Fund benefit) in New York in recent years. Since 1995, the musical has been performed in theatres around the world, and songs such as "I Read," "Happiness," "I Wish I Could Forget You," "Loving You" and "No One Has Ever Loved Me" have been embraced by fans, critics and concert performers.

Passion — with libretto by Lapine, and music and lyrics by Sondheim — was somewhat revised, to acclaim, for a 2010 production at London's Donmar Warehouse. Donna Murphy won the Best Actress Tony Award for playing Fosca in the original Broadway production. A cast album preserves the score.

Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for Saturday Night, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Anyone Can Whistle, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, The Frogs, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park With George, Into the Woods, Assassins, Passion and Road Show.

Lapine, a librettist, playwright and director, has worked with Sondheim on Sunday in the Park With George, Into the Woods and Passion. He also directed the first revival of Merrily We Roll Along at La Jolla Playhouse. He also created and directed Sondheim on Sondheim for the Roundabout. With William Finn he has worked on Falsettos, A New Brain, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and the upcoming Little Miss Sunshine.

Doyle received Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards as Outstanding Director of a Musical for his Broadway debut, Sweeney Todd. His production of Sondheim's Company won the Tony for Best Musical Revival and earned him a Tony Award nomination as Best Director of A Musical. He directed the Broadway musical A Catered Affair. He is currently working on a Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park production of Sondheim and George Furth's Merrily We Roll Along.

Now in its 45th year, Classic Stage Company is the award-winning theatre committed to re-imagining the classical repertory for a contemporary American audience. This season CSC has presented the critically acclaimed production of The Cherry Orchard with John Turturro and Dianne Wiest and will in February present Academy Award winner F. Murray Abraham in Bertolt Brecht's Galileo, and in March Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream with Tony Award-winning actress Bebe Neuwirth and acclaimed actress Christina Ricci.

For more information on Classic Stage Company visit the theatre's website at www.classicstage.org.

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