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THEATER REVIEW: A Little Night Music at Writers’ Theatre (4 stars)

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Desiree, the Scandinavian actress at the heart of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s “A Little Night Music” and the character who delivers the famously cynical number “Send in the Clowns,” is generally played as a grande dame made painfully aware of her own limitations and bad choices. Although Shannon Cochran looks ravishing in the role in director William Brown’s exquisitely intimate Writers’ Theatre production of this masterfully structured 1973 Broadway musical, mostly about a bunch of middle-aged folks trying to negotiate commitment and desire, her Desiree is very much a beer-and-a-sandwich kind of gal who comes with a good dollop of humor, warmth and, crucially, hope.

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