Monday, August 3, 2009

New Review Posted: The Light in the Piazza

This past Wednesday I turned 24, and Marriott Lincolnshire gave me a great present--opening night of The Light in the Piazza. Adam Guettel's score is one of the best of the past decade, and I had not yet gotten the chance to hear it live. The script has flaws, and the production isn't perfect, but there were moments that were truly thrilling, and the show as a whole had a real emotional pull. If you care about serious musicals, it's definitely worth a trip.

The link is here and the text of the review is below.

That "The Light in the Piazza" was a Broadway success must be one of the miracles of contemporary theater. Adam Guettel's score is absolutely ravishing, but also far more complex than the usual Broadway score. Audiences proved hungry for beautiful music, though, and it ran for over a year.

American Margaret Johnson (Mary Ernster) and her daughter Clara (Summer Smart) are vacationing in Florence, where Margaret once honeymooned with her husband Roy (Michael Accardo). Clara meets, and falls for, the young Florentine Fabrizio (Max Quinlan). But, as one character says, "happiness can also scar," and the play is concerned with both the danger and the beauty of love.

Joe Leonardo's production stumbles in places, but the emotional tug is still there. Since it also has a few excellent performances and some genuinely thrilling musical moments, the show is a must for those who care about musicals. Ernster's Margaret is the center of the production, and she is magnetic. She believably shows both the humor and pain of a woman for whom managing, fixing and avoiding have become a way of life, and the painful process that just might let joy back in. Add in her luscious alto, and her songs become simply heartbreaking.

Smart and Quinlan act the lovers convincingly, but they seem to be trying too hard when they sing; their vocal performances are technically accurate, but far from effortless. The supporting cast is studded with flavorful performances, especially Paula Scrofano, as Fabrizio's mother, and Jennifer T. Grubb as his sister-in-law.

The book has clich├ęd sections, certainly, and the staging and design don't fully capture the beauty of Italy. The nine-piece orchestra, while artful, still lacks the lushness of the original orchestrations. More quibbles could surely be found. But when song after song sends a chill up the spine, who cares?

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