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LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?


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LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#0
Posted: 5/19/05 at 10:50pm
Would you agree that LIGHT ON THE PIAZZA is a play with music and not a musical?

Provide your supportive reasoning to your yes/no response.

Updated On: 5/19/05 at 10:50 PM
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Jose, you're reminding me of SAT essays! >_____<
This is my signature.
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I'm going for substantive discussions here...

to allow folks to expand their musical discourses.

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LoL seriously what is up with all these questions Jose? I feel like you're one of those Swings who wants to be a Legend soon so they sit and ponder on possible threads. Just feel like asking "deep" questions tonight or something?
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I think that The Light in the Piazza is a musical more so than Spelling Bee. I think that comes in where with Bee the book is so fantastic and the music, while good and fitting, more just amplifies the fantastic book. On the other hand Piazza's music is much more where the show's enjoyment comes from than its book. So, yes, I think it is a musical.
And hang on, when did you win the discus?
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I would definitely say it's a musical, and not a play with music. Music motivates the story and expands on the characters; it's the most integral part of the show. Margaret has her conversations with the audience, but "Dividing Day" and "Fable" tell so much more about her. Fabrizio and Clara can't communicate very well with words (he speaks Italian, she speaks English), yet they sing to each other; they connect with music in ways they can't with words. "Say it Somehow" is a good example (one of my favorite lyrics in the show is "I think I hear the sound of 'wrap your arms around me'). I would say it's much more a musical than a play with music.

Oh, and please change the title to Light IN the Piazza.
Updated On: 5/19/05 at 11:11 PM
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"I think I hear the sound of 'wrap your arms around me'" is
an awful lyric.
Updated On: 5/1/08 at 11:21 PM
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Thanks for pointing out my typo, Gov. I corrected it.

Now, here's one for you:

"I would definitely say it's a musical, and not a play with words..."

"not a play with words"?

Is PIAZZA a panto?
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Whoops. Sorry.
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re: LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#10
Posted: 5/19/05 at 11:24pm
"Just feel like asking "deep" questions tonight or something?"

Not to point out the obvious or anything, but this IS a theatre message board with a specific focus on Broadway. Every one of Jose's questions this evening has had to do with a show currently running on Broadway. The fact that these attempted discussions are rare enough to be commented on is sad at best and pathetic at worst.
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re: LIGHT ON THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#11
Posted: 5/19/05 at 11:30pm
I say it's a musical.

I haven't seen Piazza yet (but am going- yay for StudentTix!) but will attempt to answer your question. Labels such as "musical" and "opera" and "play with musical" are used with such a lack of precision that I don't think anyone really knows what exactly is what. To me, "play with music" means a play that has some music in it, like Othello, and a musical is a production in which the characters express a heightened level of emotion by singing. In a traditional, non meta-musical, this singing is not commented upon. When a character sings, it's because he or she has to express him or herself, and he or she doesn't introduce it by saying "This makes me feel like singing!" (Of course, recent musicals have been changing this.) A "play with music" would be as in Twelfth Night, where Feste sings because hes a fool and singing is his job.

Of course, some people construe "musical" to mean "musical comedy"- this would exclude Piazza. If you think that things like big production numbers, a mix of spoken dialogue and song, a certain kind of structure and and some degree of pizzazz are required to call a show a musical, then you start looking for other labels for shows that push the traditional boundaries (do you think Sweeney is an opera?). I'm just glad that we have shows that make us think about these things! I don't think labels really matter all that much most of the time, but I recently wrote a paper on Porgy and Bess, which has only recently come into its own because people are finally realizing that it's an opera, and are producing it accordingly.

This is a much more interesting question than those old SAT essays (mine was the old school SAT II in writing). The questions are often so silly it's hard to say something smart about them. I think I blathered on about serialist composers in mine.
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re: LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#12
Posted: 5/19/05 at 11:32pm
Just to try and define this a bit -- a think a play with music is something like "Souvenir" (the bio about Florence Foster Jenkins that ran at the York a few months ago) or "Imaginary Friends" with Cherry Jones and Swoosie Kurtz from a couple of seasons ago, where musical interludes were used to illustrate or comment on the action of the play, rather than be an integral part of the storytelling. The music didn't propel the plot forward or help to inform or enrich the characters and frankly, could have been cut without harming the narrative.

In PIAZZA, the music definitely is used to propel the story forward and add texture to our understand of the characters' plight, so PIAZZA is certainly a "musical."

Now, a more specific question might be -- is PIAZZA more of a musical or a chamber opera?
"What a story........ everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end." -- Birdie [http://margochanning.broadwayworld.com/] "The Devil Be Hittin' Me" -- Whitney
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re: LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#13
Posted: 5/19/05 at 11:38pm
Amen, Margo. :)

I'd go with chamber musical, personally.
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re: LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#14
Posted: 5/19/05 at 11:41pm
One could make the argument, Margo, that in PIAZZA music isn't used to propel the story forward as much as it appears to.

The young woman, whose character name escapes me at the moment, is supposed to be emotionally challenged, yet when she sings, she doesn't sing "true." There is no musical identity to that character. Her lyrics demonstrate someone quite literate and with a full vocabulary, and not a whisper of someone who is emotionally younger than her years.

One would agree that SOUVENIR was a play with music. But, how much music makes a musical? Even as a chamber opera, PIAZZA might fall short in some estimations.
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re: LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#15
Posted: 5/19/05 at 11:47pm
I think you (or your proposition) is underestimating what and how a twelve year old thinks about and acts like. She could have been a very bright child (as we have some on this board). The thing is her disability is not as black and white as a broken bone.

I believe the show is taking place in the 1950's (correct?). Today, 50 years later, all developmental theories are just that theories. There is no clear answer as to how a person developed. Is it nature or nurture? Perhaps her experience adds more to her growth than doctors gave her credit for. The focus of the show is on how Margaret deals with her daughters condition. Could it possibly be that Margaret, in attempts to protect her, only sheltered her from the experiences she neede to grow?
I want to write music. I want to sit down right now at my piano and write a song that people will listen to and remember and do the same thing every morning...for the rest of my life. - Jonathan Larson. Tick, Tick...BOOM!
Updated On: 5/19/05 at 11:47 PM
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re: LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#16
Posted: 5/19/05 at 11:49pm
I would have to say the problem with Clara is a lack of clear characerization throughout the piece, the music is consistent with the way the character is portrayed, which seems to simply pull out her "disability" when the plot points dictate it as a necessesity. The other characters Margaret and Fabrezzio as well as his entire family, are very much developed by their songs, and most of the plot is advanced in song.
I stand corrected, you are as vapid as they say.
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re: LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#17
Posted: 5/19/05 at 11:52pm
emotionally young is not the same as intellectually young jose. i have known many young children who are extremely smart and have great command of language, but they "have not lived, have not grown."
i think this is definitely a musical as some points of the story rely on the music to inform us about the plot and the characters. i think the most explicit use of this is the lack of lyrics in "say it somehow"... simply the music and melody brings fabrizio and clara together, nothing they say, but that they can sing together no matter the language, that is how they find a way to speak to each other. i thought it was a beautiful example of how music is a universal language.
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re: LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#18
Posted: 5/19/05 at 11:55pm
I think the emotional verses intellectual maturity point is an important one, as is the point the show makes that despite her emotional immaturity Clara is a sensual, adult woman.
There do seem to still be some moments where the character is inconsistent, however.
I stand corrected, you are as vapid as they say.
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re: LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#19
Posted: 5/19/05 at 11:58pm
well as margaret tells us, something is different with clara in italy. yes, she still has her moments, but supposedly fabrizio and italy have started her growth again. i took the whole thing not so much as what is margaret going to decide, but what is the audience going to decide about clara... is she getting better? is she going to be able to live in italy with fabrizio? is it something that margaret wants to see, a manifestation? that was, i thought, the point and the beauty of craig lucas' book.
Updated On: 5/19/05 at 11:58 PM
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re: LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#20
Posted: 5/20/05 at 12:01am
I saw it differently but the same basic premise of perception, which is we are seeing Margaret tell her story and her fears about Clara, maybe Clara in most circumstances is fully capable on her own, but Margaret's fear and guilt keeps her from seeing that Clara is actually growing and maturing.
I stand corrected, you are as vapid as they say.
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re: LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#21
Posted: 5/20/05 at 12:05am
also, there's something to be said about clara's name (just as in passion)... her state isn't clear. margaret tries to define it and then her opinions start to turn. fabrizio and the naccarelli's think she's fine, nothing wrong... too many people try to put her into a certain position and nothing was more effective to me than kelli o'hara's running frantically on the stage before the final scenes. no set. no other people. just that gorgeous backdrop and her running away from everyone else, trying to find her own place on that stage. not letting anyone else corner her.
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re: LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#22
Posted: 5/20/05 at 12:08am
Aww, apdacery, I am getting misty eyed.
I want to write music. I want to sit down right now at my piano and write a song that people will listen to and remember and do the same thing every morning...for the rest of my life. - Jonathan Larson. Tick, Tick...BOOM!
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re: LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#23
Posted: 5/20/05 at 12:09am
Well, use Clara's "Tirade" in Act II as an example. When she flies off into a childish rage when she misiniterprets Franca's physical interaction with Fabrizio. During the fractured and disjointed music in the scene, we learn much about Clara's fragile emotional state, her immaturity, and her incomplete psychological development -- she behaves like a petulant 12 year old at a school dance, not a normal mature 26 year old woman. Her words are simplistic befitting a little girl throwing a tantrum. To the Italians (with their shaky grasp of English) perhaps her volatility is interpreted merely as "temperament," but to us in the audience it becomes crystal clear at that moment that something is very much amiss in Clara's mental state.

In that one musical interlude, in both music and lyics, Guettel gives us insight into Clara's psychological profile, into the depth of her feelings for Fabrizio (it's telling that she goes to him and not her mother for comfort) and foreshadows trouble to come amongst the characters in the narrative.

That's a moment you can only have in a "musical" (or a "chamber opera"), not in a "play with music." The simple lyrics speak volumes as to her mental incapacities and the music is very telling as to her unhinged emotional state.
"What a story........ everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end." -- Birdie [http://margochanning.broadwayworld.com/] "The Devil Be Hittin' Me" -- Whitney
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re: LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#24
Posted: 5/20/05 at 12:09am
I couldn't see much of the backdrop from my seat.
It looked fabulous from what I could glimpse though.
I think all of this points out that the beauty of the show and its score is in its incredible complexity and internal manuevering.
It has so many levels and juxtapositions of thought occuring at once it makes for a marvelous experience, but a difficult one.
I stand corrected, you are as vapid as they say.
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re: LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA -- Is it a musical?#25
Posted: 5/20/05 at 12:14am
i know penguin! the backdrop was simply the all the sunset (or sunrise for clara's state?) color. the same one on the cd cover...

tgif, if you couldn't tell, i loved this show! i've put a lot of thought into the different aspects of it as it affected me a lot. margo, i agree about tirade, i thought musically it taught me so much about the character.

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