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As the coquettish trophy wife of a middle-aged philandering lawyer, the vivacious Aimée Barile brings a special sparkle to a deceptively difficult role. In Knightsbridge L.A.'s mounting of Stephen Sondheim's 1973 musical A Little Night Music, Barile slips easily into the play's sophisticated style of classic drawing-room comedy, circa early 1900s Sweden. Yet there's something refreshingly timeless about her portrayal—a woman for all seasons.

She serves the lush Sondheim score superbly with her lilting soprano voice, and she finds layers of cleverness and spunk beneath the character's shallow exterior. Her mastery of the role follows years of experience, beginning at age 8. She learned what it meant to tackle challenging musical roles when she played the title role in a school production of Annie. Since then, she played a different Sondheim heroine—Cinderella—in Into the Woods, and has appeared in 25 plays and musicals on both coasts and in Santiago, Chile. Barile hails from the San Francisco Bay Area and studied theatre at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. She considers acting her primary career focus, though she's a producing member of erinys LA, a company devoted to developing challenging women's roles. Barile is also creating a one-woman autobiographical show, and a long-term goal is to open and run a children's theatre company.

She was disappointed in fall 2001 when her elevation from swing player to regular cast in There's No Place Like Hollywood at the Stella Adler Theatre—in which she played Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, and 10 other roles—was jettisoned. The show's extension was aborted following 9/11. Yet she exudes as much confidence and resilience as the plucky Anne Egerman, and we expect to hear much more about her highly promising career.

—Les Spindle

"A Little Night Music," continues at the Knightsbridge Theatre Los Angeles, 1944 Riverside Dr., L.A. Sat. 5 p.m., Sun. 6 p.m. Through Jan. 19. $16-22. (626) 440-0821.

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