With music and lyrics by Adam Guettel, the grandson of Richard Rodgers, THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA fulfilled its great promise by becoming one of the most enchantingly romantic and melodically moving musicals to come about in the new millennium and its Tony Awards for Best Score, Best Actress In A Musical, Best Orchestrations and a trio of technical prizes go a long way in justifying the notable place the Italianate musical has in American theatre history. Plus, what an original cast - besides Tony-winner Victoria Clark, THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA also featured fellow nominee Kelli O'Hara, who appears this season in a leading role in NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT, as well as crossover GLEE superstar Matthew Morrison, who would go on to make another strong impression in a pivotal role in a musical at Lincoln Center soon thereafter (also under the direction of Barlett Sher) - SOUTH PACIFIC.
Few composers reside in the gigantic looming shadow of their family business more than the gifted and accomplished, if slow-working, Adam Guettel. His first musical, FLOYD COLLINS showed massive promise and more than merely pleased many who saw it, yet it was largely overshadowed at the time by another musical that premiered on almost the exact same night - an instant classic, no less - Jonathan Larson's RENT. While the sounds of Guettel's various scores and that of RENT by way of Jonathan Larson could not be more dissimilar, all unquestionably owe a debt to the musical theatre legacies and traditions of not only Rodgers & Hammerstein, but also Stephen Sondheim. Guettel's next theatrical endeavor, a song cycle titled SATURN RETURNS - and, later, re-titled MYTHS & HYMNS - showed further growth and development, but it was not until THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA that the mantle was truly passed from generation to generation and Guettel really grew up. Possessing more sumptuous, striking and unique melodies than we have heard in multiple seasons combined - especially over the course of the last twelve years - THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA is a show that will be fondly remembered for the rich, evocative music of Guettel, expertly rendered by the talented Ted Sperling, as well as the already iconic lead performances of the central trio - Victoria Clark, Kelli O'Hara and Matt Morrison. Rarely these days on Broadway are we given an adult musical with the effortless sweep and emotional complexity of THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA and we can hope Guettel's next score and show will match it in its unmistakable allure and various sensory charms.
So, now, take in the performance by Victoria Clark, Kelli O'Hara, Matt Morrison and members of the original cast of the multi-Tony-winning THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA on the 2005 Tony Awards where they perform a medley primarily featuring the show's ingratiating opening number, "Statues And Stories".
As a special bonus, check out the PBS Great Performances film of the final performance of THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA on Broadway, starring Clark alongside Katie Clarke and Aaron Lazar.
So, what was the most arresting element of the six-time Tony Award-winning original production of THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA, in your opinion - and what makes the show still so powerful? Is it the many sophisticated and entrancing songs in the score? Was it the phenomenal performances of the peerless three original players? Was it the sensitive and smart direction by Barlett Sher or the awe-inspiring physical production? Perhaps, it was and is the combination of all these things - and that extra special magic of it being an actual continuation of the tradition began by Guettel's grandfather - that makes THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA one of the most important productions in Tony Award's history and one of the most vital new musicals of the new millennium.