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Night Beat

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Director Licia Colombi promises many things at tonight's world premiere of Ensemble Theatre's Nocturne. The show is a mix of live music and an original play — a captivating tale of an unsuccessful sax player's jealousy-fueled marriage and a mystic jazz legend who straightens out the man's relationship with his wife. But we're most excited about the onstage sex scene. "It's a little erotic," laughs Colombi. "She's not naked, but she has an orgasm onstage."

Nocturne originally began 25 years ago, when Colombi held a stage reading of playwright Saul Zachary's new play while living in New York. They even went so far as to commission budding jazz composer Jonathan Markow to write the score. Over time, the project gathered dust as its creators moved on to other jobs. Last year, Zachary started thinking about Nocturne again and called Colombi (whom he hadn't talked to in more than two decades). Colombi tracked down Markow, and the play finally moved forward. "I've never experienced anything like this in the theater before," she says. "Jazz is a character in the play."

The story centers on the fading relationship of a long-married couple. It takes the appearance of a magical jazzman to rekindle their passion. "The play is a dream," says Colombi. "And jazz fuels the dream." Nocturne indeed distinguishes itself with the presence of live music, with sax player Rob Williams providing a tuneful counterpoint to the dialogue. "They riff with each other," says Colombi. "It's not a singer and a musician, and it's not background music. It's a duet."

More than anything, Colombi hopes that Nocturne will turn on audiences — in more ways than one. "When we did the stage reading in New York," she recalls, "people were ready to run home and jump in bed with their significant others by the end of the evening."
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: June 3. Continues through June 18

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