July 9, 2020

Winnipeg
20° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Close this

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

A lovely, old-fashioned celebration of love

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/5/2010 (3708 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Samantha Hill and Aaron Hutton bring young love to radiant life in gentle musical.

GARY BARRINGER PHOTO

Samantha Hill and Aaron Hutton bring young love to radiant life in gentle musical.

Florence is renowned for the golden quality of its sunshine and the extraordinary clarity with which it bathes the Tuscan capital's Renaissance treasures.

In the unabashedly romantic chamber musical The Light in the Piazza, an American matron named Margaret in 1953 escapes her dying marriage back home by holidaying in Italy with her free-spirited daughter Clara in the hopes of recapturing the passion she and her husband enjoyed on their pre-war honeymoon.

Dressed in frumpy, dark clothes, Margaret hauls the resplendent Clara to see Michelangelo's statute of David, but the beautiful 26-year-old, who has the mind and emotional maturity of an adolescent, is hot for her own David in the flesh. When her windblown hat is caught by Fabrizio, a young Italian man, the two are instantly besotted.

The simple show and gentle telling of The Light in the Piazza stands out from the jukebox musicals with their throbbing rock scores and the special-effects-laden extravaganzas that dominate modern Broadway.

Up-and-coming American composer Adam Guettel and book-writer Craig Lucas celebrate the marvel of love with an absorbing tale that tangles Romeo and Juliet with the 2002 movie I Am Sam, the story of a man possessed of the intellect of a seven-year-old and a capacious heart.

In its ninth season with a mandate to produce overlooked musicals, Dry Cold Productions has snapped up a relatively new, cult work that savours its old-fashioned virtues, with Guettel's swooning melodies and overcooked dramatic moments that soar to operatic heights. Based on the novella by American Elizabeth Spencer, The Light in the Piazza shows wide appeal in how it pits the optimism of youth against the disappointment of middle age.

As Clara and her Florentine suitor Fabrizio, Winnipeg student actors Samantha Hill and Aaron Hutton make you fall in love with first love all over again. Hill is especially radiant in voice and presence, capturing all of her character's giddy exuberance and rapture, temper and terror. Hutton is also convincing as a boy/man coming of age, desperate to make more of love than his philandering older brother Giuseppe, who inherited a roving eye from his father, Senor Nacarelli.

The pivotal force in the well-sung 135-minute show at the Canwest Performing Arts Centre is Margaret, a role that gives Winnipeg's Melanie Whyte a rare occasion in the spotlight. She nicely captures tightly wound Margaret's sadness in Dividing Day, the musical lament for her failed marriage. Any parent will identify with her protectiveness and her hesitance to inform Fabrizio and his family about Clara's limitations.

Although Dry Cold favours modest production values, The Light in the Piazza looks good, with a simple Brian Perchaluk set dominated by movable pillars and Scott Henderson's warm lighting. Director Donna Fletcher displays a light touch, especially during Aiutami, a comic number about a Nacarelli family meltdown. Among the supporting cast, Naomi Forman creates some strong moments as Giuseppe's spitfire wife Franca, most notably with her cautionary song to Clara, The Joy You Feel. Steven Ratzlaff bring appealing Old World culture and charm to Fabrizio's father.

In the end, Margaret sees the light and the world through the eyes of Clara (whose name means light), urging her to "love if you can and be loved."

 

kevin.prokosh@freepress.mb.ca

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press will close this commenting platform at noon on July 14.

We want to thank those who have shared their views over the years as part of this reader engagement initiative.

In the coming weeks, the Free Press will announce new opportunities for readers to share their thoughts and to engage with our staff and each other.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us