Set against the architecture, language and people of Italy, a young woman’s hat is taken by the wind, only to be caught by a young man, igniting a whirlwind romance despite family hesitations.
Set in the 1950s, “The Light in the Piazza” is a Broadway musical about a mother and daughter, Margaret and Clara, vacationing in Florence. While there, Clara falls in love with a young Italian man named Fabrizio after he retrieves her hat. Clara’s mother, Margaret, does not initially approve of Clara’s relationship with Fabrizio, but eventually she comes to accept her daughter’s choice, even working with Clara and Fabrizio when they choose to get married, despite her own reservations about marriage and relationships.
“The story follows Clara and Fabrizio, but the real, true heart of the story is about the mother, Margaret, and her relationship with her daughter and her relationship with her husband and her relationship with the people she’s meeting in Italy,” said Morgan Parry, producer for the Ziegfeld Theater and director for this season’s production of “The Light in the Piazza.” “It’s really about motherhood, letting go and relationships.”
The theme of motherhood and relationships was one of the things that attracted Parry to the show. A female protagonist is also something that caught Parry’s attention.
“It’s such a representation of life and the relationships that we create, especially that mother-daughter relationship,” Parry said. “There are so many plays, just like in the film industry, that follow the man; it’s his story of success or his story of falling in love or his story of whatever. There’s not a ton of plays about motherhood.”
Parry also said the music in the show is “the most beautiful music ever written in musical theater. In my opinion, a lot of musicals have their fun showstopper songs or they get the Andrew Lloyd Webber style . . . There’s nothing like this. There’s nothing as beautiful as (‘The Light in the Piazza’) is.”
Parry said that, while “The Light in the Piazza” is not a well-known musical, she thinks it’s one that will change the audience’s perspective on life.
“It’s a life-changer play if you let it be,” she said. “I don’t think anyone will walk out and not feel a relation to at least one of the characters or scenes . . . Every relationship that we go through in life is shown in this play.”
Rachel Shull plays Margaret in the Ziegfeld Theater’s production of the show. Last fall, Shull graduated from Weber State University with a degree in musical theater. She said one of her favorite parts of the production is the ending song, which is sung by her character, entitled “Fable.”
“The story seems like it could very well end with Clara walking into the church (to marry Fabrizio), but then right after that, Margaret sings a song called ‘Fable,’” Shull said. “It says that love is a fake, love is a fable; good luck, Clara, because none of that is real. At the very end of that song, she sees this symbolic light in the piazza that Clara keeps referring to throughout the show, and Margaret seeing that kind of puts a lid on the entire thing . . . that moment on stage is always overwhelming for me.”
Lindsea Garside plays Clara. Like Shull, Garside recently graduated from WSU with a degree in musical theater.
“Most people see the world for what is in the world, and (Clara) sees the world for what people are in the world,” Garside said. “She’s more interested in people and their lives and what they have to offer than the material things of the world.”
Garside said she and other cast members have put in countless hours of work to perfect the Ziegfeld Theater’s production of “The Light in the Piazza.” As it is a local theater with local actors, Garside encourages students and community members to come and see “The Light in the Piazza” and support local art with their attendance.
“The Light in the Piazza” will run at the Ziegfeld Theater on the corner of Washington and 40th Street on Fridays and Saturdays until Feb. 15, with a Thursday performance on Feb. 13 and a Sunday performance on Feb. 9. Tickets start at $12 and are available online at http://www.theziegfeldtheater.com/, over the phone at 855-ZIG-ARTS, or in the box office at the theater.