Review: ‘Passion’ runs deep at Good Company Theatre

Starring in "Passion" at Good Company Theatre are (from left) Lori Rees, Tito Livas and Ginger Bess. Photo: Good Company Theatre

OGDEN, Utah, Feb. 14, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — Don’t expect a typical love story when you go to “Passion” at Good Company Theatre in Ogden.

The Stephsten Sondheim/James Lapine musical, which is rarely produced, is about an intense emotional connection between a man and woman, but it’s also about neediness and dark obsession, and the effect that amount of focused attention can have on a partner.

Actor Tito Livas stars as Georgio, a promising young military officer in Italy who accepts an assignment to a remote post, and must leave behind Clara, his lushly sensual girlfriend, a married woman, played by actress Ginger Bess.

At his new post, Colonel Ricci (David A. Boice) welcomes Georgio into the home he shares with a family friend, a bleak, dour and sickly woman called Fosca (Lori Rees).

Then the chilly and off-putting Fosca begins to warm to Georgio, in her own clinging, clawing fashion. A desperate obsession follows.

The musical, which contains sexual situations and brief simulations, takes some unexpected and thought-provoking turns from there.

Livas is stellar as Georgio, who tries to live an honorable life, and who wants to feel loved. His acting is subtle and focused, and allows us to see into Georgio’s heart.

Bess is stunning as the flushed and seductive Clara, who is drawn to Georgio, but has a son, a husband and social status to figure in as well. Bess has a clear and supple voice and a gift for vocal interpretation.

And Rees is frighteningly effective as the desperately needy Fosca, at first utterly repelling and, slowly, slightly more relatable and sympathetic.

The supporting cast is strong, with standout performances by actors including Boice, Allen Smith, Dustin Bolt and Jim Dale.

The set is functional and effective for the intimate space. The costumes set the time and place, and help reveal the characters’ personalities, especially in the case of the women.

Director/musical director Paul Naylor has much to be proud of in Good Company Theatre’s production of this challenging and dark musical, which will leave audiences with plenty of questions to mull over.

The script — which won 1994 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Score — is not for everyone. If you are seeking happy-sappy escapism, look elsewhere. It also is not recommended for children younger than 16.

But if you are looking for theater that challenges, well performed in an intimate space, and if you are a theater connoisseur who would relish the chance to see a rarely produced show, don’t let yourself miss it.

The show runs weekends through March 4 at Good Company Theatre, at 2404 Wall Ave., Ogden. That’s a new theater space for this season. For more information or tickets, click here.


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