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Fall in love with "The Light in the Piazza"

Experience ‘La Dolce Vita’ in this soaring tale of love, passion and forgiveness

VILLANOVA, PA Villanova Theatre proudly presents The Light in the Piazza, book by Craig Lucas, music and lyrics written by Adam Guettel, directed by Dr. Valerie Joyce, PhD., and on stage April 1-13, 2014.  A mother’s need to protect her daughter comes in conflict with her desire to set her free into life, love, and happiness.  Triumphant, gorgeous, and courageous, Villanova’s production of The Light in the Piazza proves that love truly can conquer all.

Winner of six Tony Awards, including Best Original Score, The Light in the Piazza whisks audiences away to 1950’s Italy to experience a soaring tale of passion, forgiveness, and love.  Margaret Johnson, a mother escaping her crumbling marriage, travels to Tuscany with her daughter Clara. When a handsome young Florentine captures Clara's heart, Margaret must decide if she'll risk revealing truths that could threaten her daughter's happiness. Hailed as “astonishing,” “intensely romantic,” and “breathtaking,” The Light in the Piazza has redefined the modern American musical.

First produced in 2003, The Light in the Piazza celebrates the Golden Age of musicals by offering a modern twist on the classic boy-meets-girl love story.  When Fabrizio, a “dazzlingly handsome” Italian boy falls in love at first sight with Clara, a sweet and optimistic American, he has no idea she holds a secret that will affect their lives together forever.  Villanova Theatre’s production of The Light in the Piazza embraces the classic musical style while showcasing the novelty of Lucas’s tender story, begging the question: doesn’t everyone deserve a chance at love? 

When asked what she loves most about this musical, director Valerie Joyce responded “As a mother with daughters, I was drawn to The Light in the Piazza through the connection between Margaret and Clara. I am inspired and filled with hope each time I watch their love grow deeper as they learn to navigate the time in life when the mother-daughter bond transitions as life changes for both characters.”

A celebration of life and love in every sense, The Light in the Piazza is not just about a girl falling in love with a boy; it is a story of a mother’s love for her daughter, a girl’s love affair with Italy, and two families learning to love each other despite their differences.

Some characters speak almost exclusively in Italian, harmonizing with American Southern English, creating what is the only fully bilingual musical in the American canon.  The two languages mix and meld to create a rich sonic landscape that lifts the heart and enlivens the senses.  Audiences will be whisked away into “La Dolce Vita,” or the Sweet Life, the Italian sensibility that encourages long sunset strolls, decadent food and wine, and of course, falling in love as deeply and often as possible.

The Light in the Piazza departs from the 21st century pop-musical trend on Broadway with Guettel’s neo-Romantic musical composition, unexpected harmonic shifts, and extended melodic structures.  The score features swoon-worthy songs such as “Let’s Walk,” “The Beauty Is,” and the heartbreaking “Dividing Day.”  It is no wonder that critics have said “the Guettel sound is plush and enjoyable” and called the music “steadily absorbing.”  His lauded music and lyrics earned Guettel the 2005 Tony Award for Best Original Score.

An award-winning team of designers helps to bring the sights and sounds of Florence and Rome onto the Villanova Stage: David Gordon (Scenic Design), Rosemarie McKelvey (Costume Design), Jerold Forsyth (Lighting Design), John Stovicek (Sound Design), and Megan Diehl (Dramaturg).  The design team brings the romance and spirit of Italy to life through the use of classic Renaissance silhouettes and a soft, glowing light scheme.  McKelvey’s costumes will accurately depict the world of the 1950s, contrasting youthful American optimism and Italian hot-blooded sensuality.  Sliding backdrops on tracks will allow the audience to travel throughout Florence and all the way to Rome, drinking in the ancient and the modern artistic articulations of love existing side by side.  Stovicek, working with Musical Director Peter Hilliard, will bring Guettel’s soaring score to life in addition to creating an original Italian soundscape.   

Joyce directs a dynamic cast of sixteen in this grand, cinematic musical.   The principal cast includes second-year Acting Scholars Christine Petrini (Clara), and Peter Andrew Danzig* (Fabrizio); first-year Acting Scholar Mitchell Bloom (Giuseppe), first year graduate student Christen Mandracchia (Franca); and part-time graduate student Seth Martin (Roy).  The ensemble includes second-year graduate students Seth Thomas Schmitt-Hall and Emily Poworoznek; first-year graduate students Jill Jacobs, Sarah Ochocki, John K. Baxter, and Jim Hawkins; and undergraduate student Allyce Morrissey.  Villanova is also thrilled to welcome guest professional performers from the Philadelphia region: Villanova alumnus Amy Acchione Myers (Margaret), Paul Weagraff (Signor Nacerelli), and Gerri Weagraff (Signora Nacerelli).

The Light in the Piazza takes the stage at Villanova Theatre from April 1-13th, 2014.  Villanova Theatre is located on the Villanova University campus in Vasey Hall (at Lancaster & Ithan Aves.). Performances will be held Tuesdays – Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets run $21-$25, with discounts available for seniors, students, M.A. in Theatre alumni, and groups. Tickets may be purchased at the Villanova Theatre Box Office (M-S, 12-5 p.m.) in person, by phone: (610) 519-7474, or online at

About Villanova Theatre: Villanova Theatre is a community of artist-scholars committed to transforming hearts and minds through the visionary production of classical, modern, and contemporary dramatic literature. Our work is fueled by the imaginative striving common to Villanova’s accomplished faculty, versatile staff, and energetic graduate students. Together, we are devoted to creating a vibrant theatre enriched by and overflowing with the ideas explored in our classrooms. In all of our endeavors, we aim to share the dynamic experience of collaborative learning with our audiences in order to engage the intellect and stir the soul.  As a facet of Villanova University, Villanova Theatre serves the campus community as well as thousands of theatre-goers from the Main Line and the Greater Philadelphia area.

The Villanova University Theatre Department came into being in 1958 under the leadership of Dr. Dick Duprey.  Today, Villanova’s Department of Theatre offers both a Master of Arts degree and a Graduate Certificate in Practical Theatre.  Students enrolled in the theatre program undergo a course of study that combines both scholarly and practical approaches to theatre.  Guided by award-winning faculty and staff who are actively involved in the region’s professional theatre industry, students gain knowledge and experience through hands-on production work and in-depth academic study in the areas of dramaturgy, script analysis, dramatic literature, playwriting, acting, and directing.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.