The Light in the Piazza is a musical with a book by Craig Lucas and music and lyrics by Adam Guettel. Based on a novella by Elizabeth Spencer, it is set in Florence and Rome in the summer of 1953. A young American tourist, Clara Johnson, meets and falls for young Italian Fabrizio Naccarelli. When Clara's mother Margaret learns of the affair, she opposes it for reasons that only gradually become clear to the audience.
The score breaks from the more recent tradition of pop music on Broadway by moving into the territory of Neoromantic classical music and opera, with unexpected harmonic shifts and extended melodic structures, and is more heavily orchestrated than most Broadway scores. Many of the lyrics are in Italian or broken English, as many of the characters are fluent only in Italian.
Background and productions
The Light in the Piazza was developed as a musical at the Intiman Playhouse in Seattle in June 2003 and then at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago in early 2004. After 36 previews, the Broadway production opened on April 18, 2005 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in Lincoln Center, where it ran for 504 performances and closed on July 2, 2006. The musical is directed by Bartlett Sher, choreographed by Jonathan Butterell, with lighting by Christopher Akerlind, set by Michael Yeargan and costumes by Catherine Zuber. The cast featured Victoria Clark, Kelli O'Hara, Matthew Morrison, and Sarah Uriarte Berry. Chris Sarandon joined the cast as Signor Naccarelli later in the run, Aaron Lazar was a replacement in the role of Fabrizio Naccarelli and Katie Rose Clarke was a replacement in the role of Clara Johnson. In the pre-broadway production in Seattle and Chicago, Kelli O'Hara played the role of Franca rather than Clara (who was played by Celia Keenan-Bolger), and Steven Pasquale had played Fabrizio, but could not open on Broadway due to a conflict with the television series Rescue Me that he had just joined.
On June 15, 2006, shortly before its closing night, the show was broadcast on the PBS television series Live from Lincoln Center, and drew more than two million viewers.
A United States national tour starring Christine Andreas as Margaret, Elena Shaddow as Clara, and David Burnham as Fabrizio Naccarelli started at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, California, in August 2006 and ended in Chicago on July 22, 2007.
A Japanese production of the musical was produced in December 2007, having a limited engagement of about a month. It starred Kaho Shimada as Margaret Johnson.
An Australian concert version had a one-night only presentation at the Lyric Theatre, Star City in Sydney on August 17, 2008. The cast consisted of members of the Australian company of The Phantom of the Opera, with Jackie Rees as Margaret, Kathleen Moore as Clara and James Pratt as Fabrizio. The production was directed by John O'May.
In the summer of 2008, Guettel reconfigured the musical as a smaller chamber piece for the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company, Weston, Vermont, where Sarah Uriarte Berry reprised her role as Franca.
The show had its opera house premiere in October 2008 at Piedmont Opera in Winston Salem, North Carolina. It starred Jill Gardner as Margaret, Sarah Jane McMahon as Clara, directed by Dorothy Danner and conducted by James Allbritten.
The show opened as a Regional production in the Covina Center for the Performing Arts (Covina, California) in January 2009.
The Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra in Alberta presented the musical at the Yates Memorial Theatre October 19–21, 2009 which was the Canadian première.Directed by Fran Rude and musical direction by Ken Rogers this production starred Diane Llewelyn-Jones as Margaret, Nicole Higginson as Clara and Steven Morton as Fabrizio.
The Berkeley Street Theatre in Toronto saw the Canadian première by Acting Up Stage open on January 30, 2010.
The Arena Stage (Washington, DC), production ran from March 5, 2010 through April 11, 2010, with Hollis Resnik as Margaret.
The European premiere was directed by Paul Kerryson at the Curve Theatre, Leicester, UK in May 2009, starring Lucy Schaufer as Margaret and Caroline Sheen as Clara, with design by George Souglides, musical direction by Julian Kelly, lighting design by Giuseppe di Iorio, sound design by Paul Groothuis.