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Until that moment when the second act slides irrevocably into theater that is good for you, the London company honors the yearning, questing strains of a crescendo-heavy score that's savvy enough to lower the volume (the plaintive "New Music," for instance, rendingly led here by Dave Willetts as the pioneering Father) until the anthems ("Make Them Hear You") take over.
At once intimate and epic, "Sophie's Choice" places its romantic trio--a menage completed by Sophie and Nathan's young neighbor, the Southern writer Stingo (sweetly acted and sung by the Canadian Gordon Gietz)--against the backdrop of the defining event of the 20th century, all the while brooding on the mysteries of love and death and man and God, with a few apposite (and, in musical terms, rendingly set) Emily Dickinson poems thrown in to thicken an already heady stew.
Best of their section: Gordon's ceaselessly haunting "Sycamore Trees," rendingly delivered by the star.
among a spectrum of Bennett women that here includes his ailing Mam -- rendingly played by Elizabeth Bradley in a role that, one feels, merits its own Bennett-scripted "Talking Head" -- as well as a separately strong-willed lady, Mrs.