The Light in the Piazza now playing at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont theatre can be summed up in one word, lovely. From start to finish this piece is engaging and elegant, well performed, directed and designed. At it’s core, this a story about love and letting go. A woman and her daughter travel to Italy on vacation and find much more than they bargained for. When the daughter meets an Italian boy and falls in love, her mother is torn between trying to protect her and allowing her to finally experience her life to the fullest, sadness and all. Victoria Clark (Tony winner) is indeed outstanding as Margaret Johnson. She plays a funny and feisty middle aged woman determined to shield her daughter from hardship. Clark is so riveting in the role she almost seems to be an open vessel in which this character has taken root and is truly able to come alive. It is mesmerizing to watch her transition from uptight American to cultured woman of the world while learning some difficult lessons along the way. Kelli O’Hara plays her daughter Clara, a “special” child (although we never know exactly what is wrong with her). Ms. O’Hara gives a subtle but beautiful performance and is perfectly on point, playing Clara simply but not simple. Aaron Lazar is the newest addition to the cast having recently taken over for Matthew Morrison as Fabrizio, Clara’s love interest. Lazar is sweet, tender and genuine in the role with a strong and passionate voice to match. David Bonanno (in the role usually performed by Michael Berresse) is intriguing as Giuseppe Naccarelli, Fabrizo’s virile older brother with marital problems of this own. Giuseppe is a great lover of women, much to the dismay of his wife Franca. Patti Cohenour and Chris Sarandon who play Fabrizo’s mother and father respectively are comical in the roles of two people who only half understand what is going on around them. The only person who seems out of place in this cast is Sarah Uriarte Berry as Franca Naccarelli (Giuseppe’s wife) who so closely resembles Anita in West Side Story it’s distracting.
The set here is understated and unpretentious with some simple columns and statues. The real charm of the design comes from the warm lighting that is indeed reminiscent of Italy in the fall.
Unassuming and thoughtful musicals like this don’t come around very often, so definitely catch it if you can.
According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.