6/24/23: The Light in the Piazza
What: City Center Encores! presents the Craig Lucas-Adam Guettel musical adaptation of the 1960 novella/1962 film, about a mother and daughter who visit Florence, Italy. When daughter Clara finds an unexpected romance with a young man there, her mother Margaret must reckon with whether her daughter's troubled past could derail her future. This production recontextualizes Margaret as a Korean war bride, an outsider both in Italy and at home.
And? I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Encores! is having its third Broadway transfer, thanks to the able direction of Chay Yew and the talented leads (though this time I do wish that, unlike their Into the Woods transfer, they expand the scenic design. Clint Ramos and Miguel Urbino's work is perfectly lovely for a concert staging, but for a full Broadway production, part of the lushness of the show is how we are as swept away by Florence as Margaret and Clara are). Linda Cho's costume design is beautifully tailored, nodding to the original while also making it her own. As for the cast, Ruthie Ann Miles is transcendent as Margaret (I'm not surprised, but it's always gratifying to see her wonderful and nuanced work), and Anna Zavelson, making her NY debut, is a richly voiced and sweet Clara. Andréa Burns, who always shines, makes a meal of the smaller role of Signora Naccarelli. James D. Gish, as Clara's suitor Fabrizio, is handsome and broad-shouldered, with a lovely full voice, but there's a little something missing in his acting, which unfortunately makes the central romance a steeper uphill climb than it should be. Still, it's a lush night at the theater and worth seeing.