Now playing at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion through October 20, The Light in the Piazza is a musical that you probably shouldn’t miss. I am set to receive complimentary tickets to see the project this Saturday, but here are five reasons I’m excited to check it out!
Set in 1953 Florence, The Light in the Piazza centers on the summer adventures of Americans Margaret Johnson (Renée Fleming) and her daughter Clara (Dove Cameron). When Clara falls in love for a “local dreamer,” she and her mother must face a secret that they have kept under wraps for too long. Tony winner Brian Stokes MItchell plays Signor Naccarelli and Rob Houchen is Fabrizio Naccarelli. And, without further ado, the five reasons:
1. The Light In The Piazza Is A Critically Acclaimed Project
Based on the novel by Elizabeth Spencer, the picture was made into a 1962 film starring Oscar winning actress Olivia de Havilland (The Heiress, Gone with the Wind) and Yvette Mimieux. This was de Havilland’s first film in three years, and the actress was known to be selective in her roles. She also was determined to turn The Heiress into a film after watching the stage production (and, of course, that film is deemed a classic). Though The Light in the Piazza is not as revered as The Heiress, it would be interesting to see why de Havilland chose the film (basically, it’s a safe bet to trust de Havilland’s choices).
As for the Broadway musical, The Light in the PIazza has won six Tony Awards (including Best Original Score and Best Orchestrations).
2. Renée Fleming Is A “Legend”
During one of the promotional videos for The Light in the Piazza, Dove Cameron described Renée Fleming as a “legend.” Obviously the description fits for the four time Grammy Award winner, and seeing Fleming sing live should be five reasons unto itself. Fleming provided Julianne Moore’s singing voice last year for Bel Canto, and 2018 also saw the release of her album Renée Fleming: Broadway.
Since I’m a cinema enthusiast, my Fleming experience comes from her wonderful collaboration with Alexandre Desplat on the song “You’ll Never Know” (featured in The Shape of Water).
3. The Sky’s The Limit For Dove Cameron
With the success of Liv and Maddie and The Descendants films, Dove Cameron has become one of the industry’s brightest young stars. The 23-year-old, who has over 31 million followers on Instagram, is also a versatile performer who, along with her forays on the stage, is also embarking on a burgeoning music career. Two weeks ago, she released the video for her catchy new single “Waste.”
I attended the Barely Lethal press conference back in 2015, and I immediately thought she was a star in the making (her poise at such an early age also made an impression).During the press day, I asked Cameron and Hailee Steinfeld about their respective acting journey, and Cameron talked about the “10,000 hours rule.” Take a listen:
I’m very excited to see the chemistry between Fleming and Cameron in The Light in the Piazza, and watching them both sing should be a memorable experience.
4. The Music Is Pretty Sublime
The Light in the Piazza’s music has been acclaimed since its inception, and winning the Tony Award for Best Original Score. I downloaded the Original Broadway Recording this morning and have been incessantly listening to the title track. Dove Cameron will obviously knock that song right out of the park, and I’m also looking forward to hearing Rob Houchen’s rendition of the short but sweet tune “Love to Me.”
By the end of the week, I’ll be pretty well versed on the music, but I promise not to make a peep during the performances!
5. Location, Location, Location!
Obviously where a production is staged is not the most important aspect (the play, as they say, is the thing), but the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is a beautiful structure that rests kitty corner to Bunker Hill, my favorite section of Downtown Los Angeles.
I lived in Bunker Hill, with dreams of John Fante in tow, for nearly a decade, and watching Grand Avenue flourish over the years (even though I’ve since been priced out of the neighborhood!) was a distinct pleasure. My city slicker jogging path had me running up and down Grand Avenue ad nauseum, and no matter what time of day this city on the hill never disappointed.
If you do attend The Light in the Piazza during its LA Opera run, I have one pretty huge recommendation. Check out the Noe patio and bar at the nearby Omni Hotel. You can enter the restaurant on Grand Avenue (the hotel is connected to The California Plaza), and if you’re looking for an unpretentious and relaxing time, this is the spot. I spent way too much money in this friendly (the bartenders and servers are top notch) environment, and the bar has a piano player worth checking out (Rick is his name). He’s great at playing most tunes at the drop of a hat, and he’s well versed at singing standards.
It’s been a spell since I’ve made it back to Bunker Hill, but thanks to The Light in the Piazza, I will be back! If you have thoughts on the musical, feel free to comment below!
For tickets to see The Light in the Piazza, go to LA Opera’s official site.