BYU production of ‘The Light in the Piazza’ explores love and new experiences

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Clara Johnson (Becca Peterson) meets Fabrizio Naccarelli (Michael Milkanin) and falls in love unexpectantly during her visit to Florence, Italy.
Clara Johnson (Becca Peterson) meets Fabrizio Naccarelli (Michael Milkanin) and falls in love unexpectantly during her visit to Florence, Italy. (Photo courtesy of Jaren Wilkey.)

BYU’s Department of Theatre and Media Arts is currently presenting the Tony Award-winning production “The Light in the Piazza,” a moving story filled with soaring melodies and poetic lyrics.

The story follows an American mother and daughter as they come to Italy in the 1950’s. When the daughter meets a handsome Florentine man, their unanticipated romance causes the girl’s mother to reflect on both her changing future and the regrets of her past.

“It’s a beautiful story that discusses how love is a journey,” said Michael Milkanin, a senior studying music dance theatre who plays the Florentine man, Fabrizio, in the show. “It talks about how heartache, change and letting people go can be so difficult. I think the audience will be affected by the reality of the situation presented because we go through many of the issues the characters face every day.”

Rebecca Peterson plays Clara Johnson, the daughter who experiences a new place, culture and language and finds love for the first time.

“Playing Clara has been a dream of mine for many years,” Peterson said. “I am so blessed and thankful for the opportunity to play this character in such a beautiful production.”

“The Light in the Piazza” was originally a short narrative made into a motion picture in 1962. The musical first opened in Seattle in 2003 and began its Broadway run in April 2005, the year it won six Tony Awards.

“I think it is important to tell this story because throughout the show you see different stages of love and relationships,” Peterson said. “It makes you ponder about where your relationships stand and evaluate the level of love you feel and give to others.”

BYU's The Light in the Piazza features a beautiful set of an Italian piazza (town square) full of art, history and beauty. (Photo courtesy of Jaren Wilkey.)
BYU’s The Light in the Piazza features a beautiful set of an Italian piazza (town square) full of art, history and beauty. (Photo courtesy of Jaren Wilkey.)

“The Light in the Piazza” features brilliant music written by Adam Guettel, who won the Tony Award for Best Original Score and Best Orchestrations for the musical.

“The music is so incredible,” Milkanin said. “It is reminiscent of everything that you love about musical theater and yet is so complex and intricate; every part explains something about the characters or the story.”

The show is directed by the very talented and experienced Scott Eckern, who has been involved in producing over 150 professional musicals.

“I am thankful for the invitation from the Theatre and Media Arts Department to be the guest director of this production of ‘The Light in the Piazza,'” Eckern said. “This experience has been extremely rewarding as I have been able to be of service to the students, faculty and staff as we worked together to tell this story.”

“The Light in the Piazza” is running from Friday, Nov. 15, through Saturday, Dec. 7, in the Pardoe Theatre at 7:30 p.m. with 2 p.m. Saturday matinees. There will be no performances Sundays or Mondays, as well as during the Thanksgiving period, Nov. 26 to Dec. 4.

Tickets are $20–$22, with $6 off weeknights and $5 off weekends for BYU students with a student ID; senior citizens and BYU alumni will receive $2 off. Saturday matinees are $11–$13. For tickets, visit the Fine Arts Ticket Office, (801) 422-2981 or byuarts.com/tickets.