Italy was made for lovers and "The Light in the Piazza"—the Columbia Musical Theatre Society's latest production—indulges in this fact.
Although the plotline involves a pedestrian love story with humanizing complications, "The Light in the Piazza," which will be performed on Saturday, brings Italy to life on the strength of its production alone. This is a testament to the directorial vision of Alex Hare, CC '13.
While on vacation in Florence, Margaret Johnson (Shelley Farmer, BC '14) and her daughter, Clara, run into a young, handsome Italian, Fabrizio (Geoffery Hahn, CC '15). Clara and Fabrizio fall in love, and as the intensity of their infatuation continues unabated, the tourists are invited to spend time with Fabrizio's family, much to Margaret's chagrin.
Wedding bells quickly approach, but what starts as a love story reminiscent of "Roman Holiday" soon transitions to a more serious note when it is revealed that Clara is mentally disabled from a childhood injury. Trying first to keep Clara and Fabrizio apart, and then to keep Clara's condition hidden, Margaret eventually comes to accept that her daughter has the ability to pursue the relationship.
As the matronly Margaret, Farmer lends a degree of gravitas and skill that is well beyond her years, expertly transitioning from worried, to dominating, to apologetic at the drop of a hat. Her voice captures every ounce of emotion that she wishes to express.
As Fabrizio, Hahn is in top form, tripping over his English and rushing through his Italian. As a classically trained vocalist, he takes his songs almost to the level of opera, hitting and holding his notes beautifully.
Innocent and selfish, the chaotic Clara–played by Rebekah Lowin, CC '14–is also fleshed out well by marvellous acting and good vocals.
In the pit, musical director Solomon Hoffman, CC '14, leads the quintet of musicians in a magnificent accompaniment, which, although it begins as overpowering, quickly matches itself to the actors and enlivens an already fabulous production. Unfortunately, the singing was marred with microphone feedback as high notes were held, but it did little to harm the otherwise impeccable singing.
The stage lies mostly bare, with a single platform of sorts constantly being converted into different props and columns of fabric hanging from the ceiling, but nothing more is necessary. The animated acting (complete with fast-paced Italian), beautiful singing, and expressive music brings the illusion of Florence to the Glicker-Milstein Theatre, so close that the chisel marks on Michelangelo's "David" are almost visible to the audience.
"The Light in the Piazza" will be performed Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the Diana Center's Glicker-Milstein Theatre. Tickets are $5 with a CUID.
Correction: An earlier version of this article did not include the time for tonight's performance. Spectator regrets the error.
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