Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Light In The Piazza-Reviewed

Theatrical Outfit Musical Asks, “Who Can Love?”

 By Doc Lawrence

Clara Finds Romance In Tuscany
ATLANTA. Am I normal? Why are some through no fault of their own who seem ever so slightly different from popular notions of acceptable speech and movement treated differently? Are those shackled with disability able to receive and give love? For those who have any doubts about love’s reach, revisit some of Leo Tolstoy’s works or the Beatles classic proclamation of love. It’s transcendent; a mighty force that heals wounds and builds bridges of understanding.

It’s all you need.

The Light in the Piazza tells the story of Meg Johnson and her daughter Clara who leave their Winston Salem, North Carolina home to visit Tuscany. Beautiful and vibrant Clara suffered a head injury as a child. According to doctors, her mental capacity is equivalent to that of a 12 year old. Now in her twenties, she is childlike but very appealing in demeanor and appearance.

Mom with Clara
Her parents hope for Clara to find a “normal” life, although their marriage is breaking apart, begging the question: who is normal? The parents or their daughter? Others would likely consider Clara’s developmental limitations as playful and joyous expressions.

Clara meets Fabrizio in Florence, sweeping the young man off his feet. Sheltered by her parents for so long, Clara, perhaps for the first time, experiences romance. Meg, who meets Fabrizio’s likeable family, begins to see that a marriage between the young lovers might work.

Fabrizio and Clara
Will Clara’s disability stand in the way of love?

Much of the answer is in the nearly operatic score by Adam Guettel, the grandson of Richard Rodgers. Richard Garner skillfully directs the production. Devon Hales as Clara is radiant and blessed with a sumptuous voice.

The Light in the Piazza incorporates themes of sacrifice, destiny and the effervescence of first love predicted to ripple through this lush period musical, winner of six Tony Awards. The New York Times lauded the production as “worth the trip for hopeful theatergoers still looking for love in a Broadway musical."

Two decades ago, Tom Key became Theatrical Outfit’s Executive Artistic Director, and brought to the downtown Atlanta stage works of many of the best writers of the American South: Truman Capote, Horton Foote, Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Hank Williams, Tennessee Williams, as well as the new dramatists Carlyle Brown, S.M. Shephard-Massat, Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder. All this as part of Theatrical Outfit’s dedication to the live stage as a catalyst to creating compassion, one story at a time.

More information: www.theatricaloutfit.org. (678) 528.1500

Images courtesy of BreeAnne Clowdus Photography

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