A beautifully orchestrated theatrical piece - a story centred on whimsical romance, transporting the audience to 1950’s Florence. Jonathan Penney reviews:

Beginning as a film before its Broadway transfer in the 60s, The Light in the Piazza tells the story of Clara Johnson (Dove Cameron) – a strongly-minded American girl with a big secret – who falls head-over-heels for the suave, Italian bachelor, Fabrizio Naccarelli (Rob Houchen). If they want to be together, then they need to face all the external pressures of society and family.

Light Piazza Southbank Centre

Dove Cameron & Rob Houchen (image courtesy of Dewynters London)

Inspired by a large variety of musical styles, Adam Guettel & Kimberly Grigsby‘s score of The Light in the Piazza is beautiful. A fluid mix of romantic contemporary and classical upbeat music blends as one to tell an elegant first-love story. The accompanying live orchestra serves to enhance the emotion of the tale, a series of subtle layers that create the perfect atmosphere for this production.

The talent onstage throughout this musical is stellar. Cameron and Houchen’s chemistry is undeniable, with the vocals to match. Portraying the lovesick centric couple, they belt out their operatic-style music with ease and their passion for this story is at the forefront. Joining the duo is Margaret Johnson (Renée Fleming), a controlling mother with issues from the multiple relationships in her life. Fleming and Cameron play opposite each other exceedingly well – a highlight of the show is Daniel Evans‘ intensely staged ‘Hysteria,’ where Margaret comes to Clara’s rescue in a touching mother-daughter bonding moment.

Light Piazza Southbank Centre

Dove Cameron & Renée Fleming (image courtesy of Dewynters London)

Roberet Jones‘ set itself is minimal, which adds to the charm of this musical being set in the rustic, aged Italian city of Florence, surrounded by some of the world’s most identifiable architecture. Both direction and design complement each other with ease, allowing the audience to follow the cast through winding Italian roads, luxurious hotel rooms and even to the capital city of Rome without interrupting the fluidity of Craig Lucas‘ story. Behind this continental design sits Opera North’s 40-strong orchestra, blending into the scenery as if an Italian skyline for the events unfolding on stage.

Light Piazza Southbank Centre

Alex Jennings & Rob Houchen (image courtesy of Dewynters London)

There are not a lot of twists and turns in The Light In The Piazza‘s the plot is concerned – it is fairly one dimensional. But the score and orchestration lift this musical and charm the audience. The cast do an exceptional job of delving into a love story brought to life with a visually stunning, yet simplistic set.

This summer musical is a pure delight.

★★★★☆

The Light In The Piazza plays at the Union Theatre until 5 July 2019. For more information or to buy tickets, please visit the show website.