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The 1994 musical Passion is an exquisite examination of romantic desire turned into destructive obsession, and it’s replete with some of composer Stephen Sondheim’s most rapturously haunting music. The Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration production amplifies the work’s beauty and impact note for note through an impressive convergence of graceful direction by Eric Schaeffer, gorgeously evocative scenic design by Derek McLane, and jaw-droppingly dead-on vocal and dramatic performances by Michael Cerveris as an 1860s Italian military officer and — in a one-two diva punch to die for — Rebecca Luker and Judy Kuhn as Clara and Fosca, respectively, the women who love him. Barring anything unforeseeably amazing from A Little Night Music, the final Sondheim Celebration production, Passion could very well end up at the top of one very high and wonderful heap of Sondheim revivals the Kennedy Center has treated us to this summer.
Through August 23rd in Eisenhower Theater at the Kennedy Center. In repertory with Merrily We Roll Along and A Little Night Music (opening August 2nd). Tickets are $20 to $79. Call 202-467-4600. Visit www.kennedy-center.org/sondheim.