A passionate defense of Sondheim

I had the opportunity to see the new Stephen Sondheim musical, ``Passion,'' twice, once early in the preview period and once shortly after the opening. In both instances, I was treated to a show with intelligence, good taste, humanity, and an incredibly intense theatricality.

In the review ``Stephen Sondheim's `Passion' Fails to Arouse Much Emotion,'' May 13, the author implies that working with Hal Prince would ``invigorate'' Mr. Sondheim.

This completely misunderstands his phenomenal career.

Sondheim never repeats himself. And just when audiences think they have him pegged, he breaks out and stretches into something completely unexpected and new. This is not always popular or successful. But it is what I admire most about America's most valuable theatrical creator.

If I were to have read the author's review before attending the performance, I probably would not have bought a ticket to ``Passion.'' But I'm very glad I did not wait and decided to take the risk. Richard Biever, State College, Pa.

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published, and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ``Readers Write,'' and can be sent by Internet E-mail (200 word maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115

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