Fall in Love With THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA at Villanova Theatre, Now thru 4/13

Fall in Love With THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA at Villanova Theatre, Now thru 4/13

Villanova Theatre presents The Light in the Piazza, book by Craig Lucas, music and lyrics written by Adam Guettel, directed by Dr. Valerie Joyce, PhD., and on stage today, April 1-13, 2014. A mother's need to protect her daughter comes in conflict with her desire to set her free into life, love, and happiness. Triumphant, gorgeous, and courageous, Villanova's production of The Light in the Piazza proves that love truly can conquer all.

Winner of six Tony Awards, including Best Original Score, The Light in the Piazza whisks audiences away to 1950's Italy to experience a soaring tale of passion, forgiveness, and love. Margaret Johnson, a mother escaping her crumbling marriage, travels to Tuscany with her daughter Clara. When a handsome young Florentine captures Clara's heart, Margaret must decide if she'll risk revealing truths that could threaten her daughter's happiness. Hailed as "astonishing," "intensely romantic," and "breathtaking," The Light in the Piazza has redefined the modern American musical.

First produced in 2003, The Light in the Piazza celebrates the Golden Age of musicals by offering a modern twist on the classic boy-meets-girl love story. When Fabrizio, a "dazzlingly handsome" Italian boy falls in love at first sight with Clara, a sweet and optimistic American, he has no idea she holds a secret that will affect their lives together forever. Villanova Theatre's production of The Light in the Piazza embraces the classic musical style while showcasing the novelty of Lucas's tender story, begging the question: doesn't everyone deserve a chance at love?

When asked what she loves most about this musical, director Valerie Joyce responded "As a mother with daughters, I was drawn to The Light in the Piazza through the connection between Margaret and Clara. I am inspired and filled with hope each time I watch their love grow deeper as they learn to navigate the time in life when the mother-daughter bond transitions as life changes for both characters."

A celebration of life and love in every sense, The Light in the Piazza is not just about a girl falling in love with a boy; it is a story of a mother's love for her daughter, a girl's love affair with Italy, and two families learning to love each other despite their differences.

Some characters speak almost exclusively in Italian, harmonizing with American Southern English, creating what is the only fully bilingual musical in the American canon. The two languages mix and meld to create a rich sonic landscape that lifts the heart and enlivens the senses. Audiences will be whisked away into "La Dolce Vita", or the Sweet Life, the Italian sensibility that encourages long sunset strolls, decadent food and wine, and of course, falling in love as deeply and often as possible.

The Light in the Piazza departs from the 21st century pop-musical trend on Broadway with Guettel's neo-Romantic musical composition, unexpected harmonic shifts, and extended melodic structures. The score features swoon-worthy songs such as "Let's Walk," "The Beauty Is," and the heartbreaking "Dividing Day." It is no wonder that critics have said "the Guettel sound is plush and enjoyable" and called the music "steadily absorbing." His lauded music and lyrics earned Guettel the 2005 Tony Award for Best Original Score.

An award-winning team of designers helps to bring the sights and sounds of Florence and Rome onto the Villanova Stage: David Gordon (Scenic Design), Rosemarie McKelvey (Costume Design), Jerold Forsyth (Lighting Design), John Stovicek (Sound Design), and Megan Diehl (Dramaturg). The design team brings the romance and spirit of Italy to life through the use of classic Renaissance silhouettes and a soft, glowing light scheme. McKelvey's costumes will accurately depict the world of the 1950s, contrasting youthful American optimism and Italian hot-blooded sensuality. Sliding backdrops on tracks will allow the audience to travel throughout Florence and all the way to Rome, drinking in the ancient and the modern artistic articulations of love existing side by side. Stovicek, working with Musical Director Peter Hilliard, will bring Guettel's soaring score to life in addition to creating an original Italian soundscape.

Joyce directs a dynamic cast of sixteen in this grand, cinematic musical. The principal cast includes second-year Acting Scholars Christine Petrini (Clara), and Peter Andrew Danzig* (Fabrizio); first-year Acting Scholar Mitchell Bloom (Giuseppe), first year graduate student Christen Mandracchia (Franca); and part-time graduate student Seth Martin (Roy). The ensemble includes second-year graduate students Seth Thomas Schmitt-Hall and Emily Poworoznek; first-year graduate students Jill Jacobs, Sarah Ochocki, John K. Baxter, and Jim Hawkins; and undergraduate student Allyce Morrissey. Villanova is also thrilled to welcome guest professional performers from the Philadelphia region: Villanova alumnus Amy Acchione Myers (Margaret), Paul Weagraff (Signor Nacerelli), and Gerri Weagraff (Signora Nacerelli).

The Light in the Piazza takes the stage at Villanova Theatre from April 1-13th, 2014. Villanova Theatre is located on the Villanova University campus in Vasey Hall (at Lancaster & Ithan Aves.). Performances will be held Tuesdays - Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets run $21-$25, with discounts available for seniors, students, M.A. in Theatre alumni, and groups. Tickets may be purchased at the Villanova Theatre Box Office (M-S, 12-5 p.m.) in person, by phone: (610) 519-7474, or online at www.villanovatheatre.org.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT: CRAIG LUCAS has earned himself considerable fame as a playwright for both musicals and straight plays. Writing hits with his long-time collaborator Norman Renè such as Marry Me a Little and Reckless, Lucas received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for Drama for his play Prelude to a Kiss, which has often been treated as an indirect allegory for the AIDS epidemic. Following the success of Prelude, Lucas began writing more serious works about AIDS, including The Dying Gaul and The Singing Forest. His ability to unite genres while playing with complex social and psychological themes comes to a head in The Light in the Piazza, which earned him a Tony Nomination for Best Book of a Musical. Lucas is also a celebrated director and screenwriter. Among many others, he won the OBIE Award for his direction of Harry Kondoleon's Saved and Destroyed at the Rattlestick Theatre and the New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Screenplay for The Secret Lives of Dentists. In June of 2013, The Melbourne Regent's Theatre premiered the musical King Kong, for which Lucas wrote the book.

ABOUT THE COMPOSER: ADAM GUETTEL reached national fame for his composition of The Light in the Piazza, and backs up this acclaim with years of experience in music and composition. Since the release of his earliest works, Guettel's music has been characterized by its complexity and chromaticism, exampled in 1996's Floyd Collins, Love's Fire, and Myths and Hymns. Steven Sondheim himself has referred to Guettel's work as "dazzling". After winning the Tony Award for Best Original Score for The Light in the Piazza, Guettel was in high demand. He is currently developing a musical version of Danny Boyle's film "Millions", an opera based on Washington Irving's short stories, and a musical of "The Invisible Man". Adam Guettel is also an experienced and dedicated teacher, teaching master classes and seminars on musical theatre performance and songwriting at New York University, Pace University, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Emerson, just to name a few. A graduate of Yale University, Guettel received an honorary doctorate from Lehman University in 2007.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR: Valerie Joyce (Director) has been performing, directing, or designing on stage at Villanova Theatre for more than 20 years. Joyce directed Rogers and Hammerstein's Carousel in the 2011-12 season at Villanova Theatre and Batboy: The Musical in the 2010-11 season. Other directing credits include Annie Get Your Gun, Cabaret and Tally's Folly at Villanova, and The Meat Opera and Up Your Ante for the New York and Philadelphia International Fringe Festivals, and Thank You for Sharing with Amaryllis Theatre Company. Valerie has also worked as a professional costume designer for local and regional productions including Six Story Building (Off Broadway), The Real Thing (Arden Theatre Company), Moon or the Misbegotten (Venture Theatre), True West and Waiting for Godot (Lantern Theatre Company), Billy and Zelda (Opera Delaware), and The Comedy of Errors (Princeton Repertory), as well as many university productions.

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