Want to escape to Italy but don’t have the time or the budget this year? Well, that’s not a problem because Italy might just be coming to you! The TONY Award winning musical, The Light in the Piazza is opening a limited run in London, Los Angeles, and Chicago in 2019, and ItalyXP is proud to be a partner of the organization!
ItalyXP will offer a weekend in Florence as a prize of a contest promoted by the Daily Telegraph: the winners will have the opportunity to visit directly the places where the musical is set!
The musical will be performed in London at Royal Festival Hall from 14th June to 5th July.
This wonderful and romantic music is sure to whisk you to a sun-kissed Italian square, but what exactly is it? In this article, we’ll take a look at what makes The Light in the Piazza so special, and why it’s already won numerous awards!
Let’s start with the story. The musical is adapted from Elizabeth Spencer’s 1960 novella of the same name. Set back in the 1950s, when a different or Hollywood star or jetsetter was discovering Italy every week, it sees the mother and daughter combination of Margaret and Clara Johnson far away from home in Tuscany.
As they’re taking in the wonders of Florence – and of course they’re seduced by the beautiful dome of the Duomo, the statues in the Piazza della Signoria, and the Renaissance architecture that you just can’t escape from, a gust of wind blows Clara’s hat off. (Don’t worry, it won’t be windy when you visit Florence!)
Rather than the hat being blown into the River Arno or under an Alfa Romeo as would probably happen to most of us, it lands straight in the hands of the dreamy Fabrizio Naccarelli. If you’re picking up a hint that this might be a love story by now, then you’d be correct!
Although it sounds all lovely and rosy, Margaret doesn’t want the relationship to happen. At first, it may seem like an overprotective mother who doesn’t want to lose her daughter to a man in a foreign country (air travel was a lot harder back in 1953!) However, as the show progresses, we realise there’s more to it than that. We’ll not say anymore now as we don’t want to spoil it!
Such a fabulous and fun musical deserves a cast of actors worthy of the roles, which are cleverly written by Craig Lucas. As well as a number of musicals and stage shows, he was a director of the romcom Prelude to a Kiss, featuring Meg Ryan and Alec Baldwin.
But let’s talk about the people you’re actually going to see on stage. And where better to start than with mum herself. Reneé Fleming will be taking the role of Margaret Johnson – and you won’t want the chance to miss her. She’ll be a familiar name to many theatre goers, but if it’s not your usual thing let’s have a quick look at her CV. An opera singer who has performed in some of the world’s most famous opera houses and concert halls, Reneé has won 4 Grammy awards, sung at Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, countless Nobel Peace Prize Awards, and she was even given the US National Medal of Arts by Barack Obama in 2013. Quite clearly, there’s no-one better for the role!
And her on-stage daughter is pretty talented too! Dove Cameron has starred in a number of Disney films, including the upcoming third instalment of the Descendants film series, where she plays the daughter of Maleficent. She’s also won an Emmy for her dual role in four seasons of Liv and Maddie – imagine playing two characters! Animated film fans may recognise her voice from Marvel Rising and the upcoming Angry Birds 2. Her role as Clara is a little different to the other stuff on here, but she makes the role completely her own.
Of course, it would be lovely to give a little bio about all of the actors in this fantastic musical, but we can’t do that. But let us just tell you to look out for Royal Shakespeare Company, TV actor, and serial theatre performer Alex Jennings, soprano singer Marie McLaughlin, and Olivier award winner Malcolm Sinclair.
The all-star cast definitely does justice to the music composed by Adam Guettel and composed by Kimberly Grigsby. And last but not least, experienced theatre director Daniel Evans is there to make sure everyone is in the right place!
This isn’t the first time Florence has been used as the backdrop to a play, film, or book, and it certainly won’t be the last. If you know nothing about Italy’s Renaissance jewel and want to get a bit of history or background before coming to see the play, there are several things you can read or watch! Why not try reading Thomas Harris’ Hannibal or watching 80s romantic classic A Room with a view.
Or you could watch the original movie of the Light in the Piazza from 1960. In that, you’ll see the Piazza della Signoria which is where Michelangelo’s iconic statue David was originally located. It’s now in the Galleria dell’Accademia which you won’t see in the film or the play, but you will get a glimpse of Florence’s other famous art gallery, the Uffizi! The movie will also take you to Roma’s Ostiense train station, and the Via Veneto – where traffic was diverted for 3 days just to shoot the film!
You can see The Light in the Piazza from 14th June – 5th July at the Royal Festival Hall in London. From 12th – 20th October, it’ll be at Los Angeles Opera House, and from the 14th – 29th December it’ll be at Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Whether Italy is your annual summer vacation, or you've never been before, the Light in the Piazza will encapsulates everything that is magical about Florence and Italy itself. Don't miss this beautiful love story, acted out by some of the best in the business to sweep you off your feet and hankering to book your trip to Italy – that's if you don't win the one up for grabs from Italy XP!