OGDEN — All I knew going in was that this was a musical that had a lot of Italian. Forget about enjoying the story and learning new melodies. I was scared I wouldn’t understand even the most basic storyline despite convincing myself that 8 years of Spanish would help. It didn’t, but it didn’t need to. The theatre department at Weber State University made me fall in love with The Light in the Piazza. That’s the simple truth of it.
Margaret Johnson has taken her grown-but-innocent daughter Clara on a trip through Italy to experience the great paintings, sculptures and ruins of the past when Clara meets Fabrizio, a local Florentine who recognizes something special in Clara. Despite initial language barriers they softly fall in love despite Margaret’s fears that a family secret will be revealed and destroy her daughter’s chance at happiness. The story is simple and beautifully accompanied with honest dialogue and Tony Award-winning orchestrations.
Breanne Briggs provides a stunning performance as Clara Johnson. She approaches the role with such sincerity and honesty that I couldn’t help but fall in love with her performance. Her beautiful vocals were well matched with partner Cameron Garner (Fabrizio). Jennifer Perry (Margaret Johnson) was especially convincing with a motherly love that extended into the audience. The entire cast provided noteworthy performances throughout.
Musical director Steven Barlow led this talented ensemble in one of the more vocally demanding shows you’ll find playing across the Wasatch Front. Particularly impressive was Aiutami when the entire Naccarelli family braced the stage with tight and diverse melodies (with mother translating to the audience).
Set designer Van Tinkham’s grandiose columns, recreation of Michelangelo’s David, and large paintings flown in during museum scenes transport the audience to the heart of Italian art and architecture.
Lighting designer Jamie Frank truly captured the magic of the evening as the production was wrapped with a stunningly intimate and warm design.
Leading this star team of performers and technicians is director Jim Christian. Honestly, I willingly set my pen and paper aside, leaned back, and just enjoyed the simple beauty he brought to the stage. This production speaks marvelously of the musical theatre program at Weber State University.
The Light in the Piazza plays through March 13th at 7:30 PM, with a Saturday matinee at 2 PM. Performances take place in the Allred Theater of the Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Weber State University in Ogden. Tickets are $7-10 and can be purchased by calling 1-800-WSU-TIKS or reserved online at WeberStateTickets.com.