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Arena Stage Presents THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA

The sights and sounds of Italy alight in Arlington's Crystal City as Arena Stage presents the lush and soaring The Light in the Piazza, directed by Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith. The Light in the Piazza, based on the novel by ElizaBeth Spencer, was written by Craig Lucas (Broadway's Prelude to a Kiss) with music and lyrics by Adam Guettel (Off-Broadway's Floyd Collins). Hailed as one of the best of the decade for its "superior achievement in the classical mold of musical theater" (New York Times), the musical explores the essence of love and its triumph across cultures. The Light in the Piazza runs March 5 - April 11, 2010 at Arena Stage in Crystal City. The press opening performance is Thursday, March 11, 2010.

"I love this musical because it asks hard questions," shares Smith. "How far will a mother go to get what her child wants and needs? Are there limits to family love? How should we judge someone: for what they are or for what they could become? This show goes to the core of who we are as human beings and uncovers the human condition in all of its complexity."

Hollis Resnik, who recently won her second Sarah Siddons Society Chicago's Leading Lady Award for her role as little Edie/Edith in Grey Gardens, leads a cast of 11 as the devoted matriarch Margaret Johnson. She is joined by Margaret Anne Florence (Off-Broadway's The Fantasticks) and Nicholas Rodriguez (Broadway's Tarzan and the upcoming film Sex and the City 2) as the young lovers Clara Johnson and Fabrizio Naccarelli.

The Light in the Piazza follows the story of Margaret Johnson and her daughter, Clara, who are touring Italy in the early 1950s. One windy day, Clara loses her hat in a sudden gust of wind, and as if guided by fate, it lands at the feet of the handsome Fabrizio. As their whirlwind courtship unfolds, Margaret struggles to conceal a family secret that may put an end to Clara's happiness as well as her own.

The Broadway production of The Light in the Piazza opened April 18, 2005 and ran for just over a year at Lincoln Center Theater. It garnered 11 Tony Nominations and six Tony Awards including Best Score. Its success led to a national tour the following year. In 2008, Guettel revised the musical and created a chamber version, scaling down the fifteen-piece orchestra to a five-to six-piece ensemble. The new version, which "not only makes this transition with grace, it positively thrives" (Variety), premiered at the Weston Playhouse in Vermont. The Arena Stage production will feature a five-piece ensemble of harp, violin, bass and cello led by Music Director Paul Sportelli on piano.

"When I heard The Light in the Piazza was being reworked as a chamber version I knew I wanted to bring it to Arena Stage," continues Smith. "Each voice and each instrument is individualized, which makes the beautiful story even more raw and human."

"This is one of the most romantic musical theater scores ever written," said Sportelli. "It is inflected with opera, classical and Italian popular music yet is fused into a completely unique and original whole. It shimmers, it thrills and it soars. The music reaches out to you."

Adam Guettel (Music & Lyrics) is an artist in residence at Intiman Theater, Seattle. His newest musical, The Light in the Piazza, opened on Broadway in 2005, following a world premiere at Intiman in 2003 and a run at Goodman Theatre in 2004 (three Jeff Awards, incl. Best Musical). The Light in the Piazza won six Tonys (incl. Best Original Score, Best Orchestrations) and five Drama Desk Awards (incl. Best Music, Best Orchestrations). He wrote music and lyrics for Floyd Collins, which won a Lortel Award for Best Musical and an Obie for Best Music. Floyd Collins has been seen at Playwrights Horizons, New York; Prince Theatre, Philadelphia; Goodman Theatre, Chicago; Old Globe, San Diego; Bridewell, London; and elsewhere. His other works include Love's Fire, written with John Guare for The Acting Company, and Saturn Returns, a concert at NYSF. Saturn Returns was recorded under the title Myths and Hymns. Four of Mr. Guettel's songs appear on Audra McDonald's 1998 album, Way Back to Paradise, and two more on her 2000 album, How Glory Goes (incl. the title track). Film scores include Arguing the World, a documentary by Joe Dorman, and Jack, a CBS documentary by Peter Davis. Accolades for Mr. Guettel include the Stephen Sondheim Award (1990), ASCAP New Horizons Award (1997), and American Composers Orchestra Award (2005).

Craig Lucas' (Book) plays include Missing Persons, Blue Window, Reckless, God's Heart, The Dying Gaul, Stranger, Small Tragedy, Prayer for My Enemy and The Singing Forest. He co-wrote the musical Three Postcards (with Craig Carnelia) and the operas Orpheus in Love (with Gerald Busby) and Two Boys (with Nico Muhly), commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. His English adaptations include Brecht's Galileo, Chekhov's Three Sisters and Uncle Vanya, and Strindberg's Miss Julie. His screenplays include Longtime Companion (Sundance Audience Award), The Secret Lives of Dentists (N.Y. Film Critics Best Screenplay), Prelude to a Kiss, Reckless and The Dying Gaul, which he directed. Onstage he directed Harry Kondoleon's Saved or Destroyed (Obie, Best Director) and Play Yourself as well as his own This Thing of Darkness (written with David Schulner). Twice nominated for a Tony (Prelude to a Kiss; The Light in the Piazza), three times for a Drama Desk (Prelude; Missing Persons; Reckless), he won the L.A. Drama Critics Award (Blue Window), Steinberg/ATCA for Best American Play (The Singing Forest), Hull-Warriner Award (The Light in the Piazza), Lambda Literary Award (the anthology What I Meant Was), Flora Roberts Award, American Academy of Arts & Letters' Excellence in Literature Award, Laura Pels/PEN Mid-Career Achievement Award, and Joan Cullman Award; he twice won the Obie for Best Play (Prelude; Small Tragedy).
Molly Smith (Director, Artistic Director) has been a passionate leader in new-play development for the past 30 years, while at Arena Stage as well as at Perseverance Theatre in Alaska, the theater she founded and led for 19 years. During 10 seasons as Arena's artistic director, she's focused the repertory on American voices, making Arena the largest theater in America focusing on American artists. Ms. Smith has commissioned or championed numerous world premieres, including Paula Vogel's Pulitzer Prize-winning How I Learned to Drive and Mineola Twins; Tim Acito's The Women of Brewster Place; Moisés Kaufman's 33 Variations; Charles Randolph-Wright's Blue; Zora Neale Hurston's lost American play Polk County; Karen Zacarias' Legacy of Light; and Passion Play, a cycle by Sarah Ruhl, some of which she has directed. She founded Arena's downstairs series, which has read or workshopped some 60 plays, half of which have gone on to full productions. In 2009, two shows nurtured at Arena Stage (33 Variations and Next to Normal) moved to Broadway. Her directorial work has also been seen at the Shaw Festival in Canada, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, Tarragon Theatre in Toronto, and Centaur Theatre in Montreal, and includes classics such as South Pacific, Mack and Mabel, Anna Christie and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She has served as literary advisor to Sundance Theatre Lab and formed the Arena Stage Writers Council, composed of leading American Playwrights. An avid traveler, Ms. Smith brings artists of international renown to work at Arena Stage and serves as a member of the board of Theatre Communications Group as well as the Center for InterNational Theatre Development. She directed two feature films, Raven's Blood and Making Contact, and received honorary doctorates from both Towson Univ. and American Univ.

The Light in the Piazza Cast:

Hollis Resnik (Margaret) currently resides in Chicago, where she's been seen at the Goodman, Lyric Opera, CSO, Northlight, Apollo, and Court in such notable productions as The Little Foxes, The Chairs, A Little Night Music, Titus Andronicus, Always ... Patsy Cline, and The Immigrant. Most recently, she appeared at Philadelphia Theatre Co. as Big/Little Edie in Grey Gardens. Other appearances: Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire for Cleveland Play House, The Guardsman at Alliance, and Man of La Mancha at Long Wharf. National tours include Les Miz, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. She is the recipient of 9 Chicago Jeff Awards, 2 Sarah Siddons Awards, and the Connecticut Critics Circle Award. Ms. Resnik also has her own CD entitled Make Someone Happy.

Margaret Anne Florence (Clara) was last seen Off-Broadway as Luisa in The Fantasticks. Credits include: Maccabeat! (Allura, New York Music Theatre Festival); Company (Susan, Piccolo Spoleto Festival USA); Street Scene (Rose) and Godspell (Robin), NYU. Film: My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Our Lady of Victory (upcoming) starring Ellen Burstyn and Carla Gugino, The New Daughter starring Kevin Costner. TV: Nurse Jackie, White Collar, Law & Order, Guiding Light.

Nicholas Rodriguez (Fabrizio) performed on Broadway in the title role in Tarzan, and Off-Broadway he has appeared in The Toxic Avenger, Almost Heaven, and Bajour. He has toured in Jesus Christ Superstar (Jesus), Evita (Che), and Hair (Claude). His regional credits include originating the role of Aaron and understudying Val Kilmer's Moses in The Ten Commandments (Kodak Theatre), JCS (Jesus), Oklahoma! (Curly), Damn Yankees (Joe), Cinderella (Prince), South Pacific (Cable), Master Class (Tony), Love, Valour, Compassion! (Ramon), and The King & I (Lun Tha). This summer, he can be seen in the film Sex and the City 2. Most recently, Mr. Rodriguez portrayed Nick Chavez on ABC's One Life to Live.

Jonathan Raviv (Giuseppe) is thrilled to be recreating the role of Giuseppe after the regional premiere at Weston Playhouse. Other regional work includes: Goodman Theater's production of The Light in the Piazza; Lady Madeline at Steppenwolf; Brigadoon at Marriott Lincolnshire; The Chosen at Writers' Theatre; Fiddler on the Roof at Drury Lane Oakbrook; Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party at Lakeshore Theatre. New York credits include: The Persians at the APAP Conference; A Diner, A Shiner at American Globe; and Hello, My Name Is ... at the Lion Theatre at Theatre Row.

Ariela Maija Morgenstern (Franca) was honored to receive second place at the 2008 Lotte Lenya Competition and to perform in the award-winning Off-Broadway musical Adding Machine. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in the premiere of Imant Raminsh's Symphony of Psalms. Regional theater credits include Man of La Mancha (Aldonza), Sweeney Todd (Beggar Woman), Hairspray (Velma Von Tussle), Curtains (Georgia Hendricks), Blithe Spirit (Elvira), The Threepenny Opera (Jenny), and the title role in the opera Carmen.

Ken Krugman (Signor Naccarelli) has appeared on Broadway in Assassins, Candide and Les Misérables and Off-Broadway in Splendora and I and Albert. National tours include Jersey Boys, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Titanic, Les Misérables and Sherlock Holmes. Regional theater credits include the Guthrie, Goodspeed, Bay St., Centenary Stage, and Two Rivers theaters and the premiere of Grimm Tales at Man in the Moon Theatre, London. His film and TV appearances include Let It Snow, Hope & Faith, One Life to Live, Chappelle's Show, Late Show with David Letterman and various Law & Order's.

Mary Gutzi (Signora Naccarelli) was last seen in Washington as Grizabella in the national tour of Cats. On Broadway, she was seen as Fantine in Les Misérables and appeared as Mme. Thénardier in productions at TUTS in Houston and Sacramento Music Circus. She has performed in regional theaters across the country, earning a Jefferson nom for Emma Goldman in Ragtime and a Barrymore nom for Countess Aurelia in Dear World. She performed the role of Emma Goldman in the American premiere of Ragtime as well as with companies in Chicago, Vancouver, and the national tour. Other roles include Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard (Vancouver); Aldonza, Man of La Mancha (NCT); and Domina, Forum (Goodspeed). She also is a performance coach, director, and producer and has a theater company in Hawaii.

Thomas Adrian Simpson (Roy) has previously appeared at Arena Stage in The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Antigone in New York, Seagull, She Stoops to Conquer, The Time of Your Life, and The Great White Hope, directed by Molly Smith. Other regional credits include Delaware Theatre Company, Wayside Theatre, Ford's and Studio Theatre, among others. In 2003, Tom received a Helen Hayes nom for 110 in the Shade at Signature Theatre.

Jennifer Irons (Tour Guide/Ensemble) returns to Arena Stage, where she was last seen in She Loves Me and Camelot. Favorite local appearances include Gertrude in Seussical at Imagination Stage (Helen Hayes nom), Follies and Saving Aimee at Signature Theatre, Alexis in Nobody's Perfect at the Kennedy Center (original cast recording), Judy/Ginger in Ruthless at Maryland Ensemble Theatre, and Peter Pan at Olney Theatre Center.

Drew Eshelman (Priest/Ensemble) returns to Arena Stage after last fall's reading of The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later. He has appeared at The Shakespeare Theatre as the Nurse in Romeo & Juliet (Helen Hayes Award nom), The Imaginary Invalid, The Taming of the Shrew and The Beaux' Stratagem, and was most recently seen as Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol at Ford's Theatre. He was a long-running Thénardier in the Broadway company of Les Misérables and has worked Off-Broadway at Irish Rep (After the Ball). Mr. Eshelman has done three national tours and extensive regional work, including six seasons with American Conservatory Theatre, where he appeared in more than 25 productions. Film: The Right Stuff and Magnum Force.

Michael Vitaly Sazonov (Ensemble), a Washington native, last worked with Arena Stage understudying The Fantasticks and before that appeared in their during their Downstairs reading of Near East. Mr. Sazonov has also appeared at Kennedy Center, CenterStage, Round House Theatre, Theater of the First Amendment, Quotidian Theatre Company, GALA Hispanic Theatre, Scena Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, Firebelly Productions, and Modlin Center for the Arts.

Understudies are Conrad Buck and Kate Guesman.

The Creative Team for The Light in the Piazza includes Musical Director Paul Sportelli, Set Designer Anne Patterson, Costume Designer Linda J. Cho, Choreographer Parker Esse, Lighting Designer Michael Gilliam, Sound Designer Timothy J. Thompson, Projection Designer Adam Larsen, Assistant Sound Designer Ryan Gastelum, Italian Language Consultant, Dramaturg and Line Producer Janine Sobeck, Dialects Coach Anita Maynard-Losh, Stage Manager Susan R. White, Assistant Stage Manager Jenna Henderson, Senior Stage Management Fellow Alexandria Wood, Directing Fellow Flordelino Lagundino, Lighting Fellow Catherine Girardi, Board Interns Margot Kelly and Terry Peel, Musical Contractor Rita Eggert and Line Producer Ronee Penoi.
The Light in the Piazza is sponsored by Margot Kelly and Ira Meiselman.

The Arena Stage musical theater season is sponsored by JayLee Mead.

Arena Stage productions in Crystal City are sponsored by the Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID).

The Light in the Piazza Special Events, Ticket Information & Performance Calendar
The Salon - Monday, April 5, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.
In the spirit of artistic and literary salons of the past, The Salon features artistic leaders from Arena Stage in a series of lively, in-depth conversations with the playwrights, actors, directors, designers, dramaturgs and audiences that make Arena Stage unique. The Salon is free to Arena Stage subscribers and donors ($75+) and only $3 for the general public. Reservations must be made through the Arena Stage Sales Office at (202) 488-3300.

Southwest Night - Sunday, April 4, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.
An invitation is extended to our Southwest D.C. neighbors to buy $20 tickets, plus applicable fees, for one designated Friday evening performance of each production. Proof of Southwest D.C. residency-or continued employment-for each audience member of each party must be presented at the time of purchase. Tickets are limited to four per person and are based on availability. To purchase tickets, call (202) 488-3300 or stop by the Arena Stage Sales Office.

TICKETS:Tickets for The Light in the Piazza range from $25 to $74 plus applicable fees. Discount tickets are available for patrons purchasing tickets for multiple shows, students and groups. A limited number of $10 tickets for patrons ages 30 and under go on sale beginning each Monday for performances that week (All patrons must present valid ID). HOTTIX, a limited number of half-price, day-of-performance tickets, are available 90 to 30 minutes before curtain prior to every performance. Tickets may be purchased online at www.arenastage.org, by phone at (202) 488-3300 or at the Arena Stage Sales Office at 1800 S. Bell Street, Arlington, VA 22202.

Sales Office/Subscripti (202) 488-3300
TTY for deaf patrons (202) 484-0247
Group Sales Hotline (202) 488-4380
Info for patrons with disabilities (202) 488-3300

Tuesday, Wednesday & Sunday at 7:30 p.m. (6:00 p.m. curtain on 3/21)
Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday matinees at 2:00 p.m. (1:00 p.m. curtain on 3/21)
Weekday matinees at noon on 3/17, 3/30 & 4/7

Sign-interpreted performances: 4/1 at 8:00 p.m. & 4/4 at 7:30 p.m.
Post-show discussions: 3/23, 3/25, after the evening show; 3/17, 3/30, 4/7, after the noon show
Audio-described performances: 3/23 at 7:30 p.m. & 4/3 at 2:00 p.m.
Open-captioned performance: 3/31 at 7:30 p.m.

ABOUT ARENA RESTAGED
With construction well underway on the 48-year-old Southwest D.C. theater campus, Arena Stage has launched ARENA RESTAGED, a two-year festival celebrating the rich mosaic of our nation's voices. ARENA RESTAGED, which will lay the foundation for a new home for theater artists and audiences, will take place throughout the time it takes to finish the expansion of the new theater complex, Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. At the Center, the two existing performance spaces-the Fichandler Stage and the Kreeger Theater-will be fully renovated and a new 200-seat space dedicated to premiering American theater, The Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle, will be added. Arena Stage at the Mead Center is scheduled to open for the 2010/11 season.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Managing Director Edgar Dobie, Washington, D.C.-based Arena Stage is the largest theater in the country dedicated to American plays and playwrights. Founded in 1950 by Zelda Fichandler, Thomas Fichandler and Edward Mangum, Arena Stage was one of the nation's original resident theaters and has a distinguished record of leadership and innovation in the field. With the opening of the new Mead Center for American Theater in 2010, Arena Stage will be a leading center for the production, presentation, development and study of American theater. Now in its sixth decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 200,000. For more information please visit www.arenastage.org.


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