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Musical plays out in the key of sex.

Sex, lies, and waltzing love songs make up Opera Cleveland’s A Little Night Music, now playing at the Cleveland Play House. Stephen Sondheim’s witty take on relationships mixes Ingmar Bergman (it’s based on the director’s Smiles of a Summer Night), trophy wives, and a weekend of bed-hopping. “It’s so organic,” says orchestra conductor Betsy Burleigh. “Everything works so beautifully -- humor, passion, and honesty.”

It would take an intricate diagram to keep tabs on all the romantic entanglements in the play. For starters, there’s an unhappy marriage between a middle-aged lawyer and his bewildered 18-year-old bride. Then there’s the husband’s former flame, who reignites the spark. And there’s the flame herself -- who’s having an affair with a jealous jackass, also on board for the weekend’s festivities. “Like a ballroom dance, the characters are matched and rematched,” says Burleigh. “The music is the metaphor for this dance of partners.” The musical’s haunting score (which includes show-stopping perennial “Send in the Clowns”) adds to the emotional tangle, says Burleigh. “There is such a magical wonder about this play,” she says. “It’s a look at human folly. Certainly, we all goof sometimes.”
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Aug. 11. Continues through Aug. 19

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