Florence, Italy is a beautiful city, buzzing with people, brimming with architecture and overflowing with history. I’ve been twice and enjoyed it thoroughly but maybe not to the degree that the characters in “the Light in the Piazza” do. Clara and her mother, Margaret Johnson are on vacation when they meet Fabrizio Naccarelli and his Italian family. In a whirlwind of a few days Clara has fallen in love with the boy. Even though they struggle with the language barrier, they somehow make it work. Of course there are other speed bumps along the way as well but you will have to see the show in order to learn of those.
“The Light in the Piazza” originally opened on Broadway in 2005 at the Lincoln Center. My mother and I saw the production and unlike many, I didn’t appreciate it as much as others seemed to. The cast was filled with some great actors who wandered around an extravagant set. For those of you who love this show forgive me for the next few lines as I speak my truth. In my humble opinion, I was more intrigued by the book (lines) than the music which is highly rare for me since I love a good song in a show. If you are looking to walk out of the theater humming a tune, you may be disappointed. This could be due to the fact that part of the show is in Italian. However, Theater Latte Da does a splendid job mounting this production. There is no doubt the orchestra was lovely and the acting was superb.
The small stage, cast and scaled back orchestra worked very well for the piece. Director Peter Rothstein did a wonderful job with utilizing the ensemble to move the set pieces around. They almost looked like pop-up buildings which I was worried about when I saw pictures beforehand. When I was there I thought it actually worked very well. Music Director Denise Prosek compiled a five piece orchestra which included a piano, cello, harp, violin and bass.
Aleks Knezevich and Jessica Fredrickson who play the two lovers have great chemistry. It may be due to the fact that they played the same roles in Bloomington Civic Theatre’s version a few years ago and they are engaged in real life. No matter what, they both really owned their characters. I’ve seen Jessica in a handful of productions and this is the best I have ever seen her. She seemed so genuine and real. Kathleen Humphrey who played Clara’s mother was one of my favorites due to her precise acting. Bill Scharpen who played Signor Naccarelli was also a standout.
Does this show stick out to me as one I would see over and over again? No. Would I constantly listen to the soundtrack? No. Did Theater Latte Da layer spectacular elements of lighting, sound, acting and instrumentation that makes it worth seeing the show? Yes. If you haven’t seen “A Light in the Piazza”, see it. It is worth giving it a shot so you can decide for yourself if it is a true work of art or a not. The show is playing now through April 7th at the Ordway’s McKnight Theatre. For tickets contact Theater Latte Da: http://www.theaterlatteda.com/