The Light in the Piazza
by Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts
Based on Elizabeth Spencer’s 1959 novella of the same title, “The Light In The Piazza,” from the Huntington
Beach Academy of Performing Arts, is running from January 14th through the 17th and centers on a domestic but
Guettel’s score, played in a scaled-down version with keyboard, piano, percussio and flute, is simply gorgeous. One beautiful song follows the next, complex both in structure and mood. Although the main leads are all on wireless mics, it’s almost unneeded in this intimate close audience gathering. Throughout the show, sung monologues and dialogues are perfectly delivered. Adrian Villegas is suave and wise as Fabrizio’s father. Grace Bowen is tart and commanding as Fabrizio’s unhappy sister-in-law. Margaret’s meditation on the emotional distance that has come between her and her state-side husband in “Dividing Day,” is melodic and brooding. Clara’s cascading “The Beauty Is” captures the yearning and uncertainty of youth. Allyson Peffers plays an authentic Franca, and Giuseppi Naccarelli is played by the multi-talented Marcus Veyette.
Margaret as the narrator for the audience is also the anchor figure and Rossella Juliano is exquisite in the part. A truer match of look, manner and role is hard to imagine. Katherine Chatman, who has a voice that really transcends as it grows louder, is ideally cast as Clara. Her characterization of Clara is at first puzzling, until a plot point is revealed that makes perfect sense, and gives us a nice “aha” moment, right before the intermission. Cole Wachman is delightfully captivating as he pours out his heart to Clara in Italian and conveys all the joys and anguish of Fabrizio’s love. Lovely costumes by Carole Zelinger, Melissa Cook’s clear sound and Chris Caputo’s unobtrusive lighting round out the beautiful staging of a tale that may leave you feeling reminiscent of Sondheim — haunting and poetic with a rich, lush score.
Fortunately, for the art form and those who love it, there are composers like Adam Guettel who believe a musical can be a true work of art. That’s exactly what Piazza is, a sublime, neo-romantic creation that pushes the boundaries of what music theatre can be.
Performed January 14 - 17, 2016
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