The Light in the Piazza, music and lyrics by Adam Guettel, is unlike any of its Broadway musical contemporaries. The way the music complements the story, perfectly capturing the tone of the original novel and the emotion of the characters, is closer to opera than to musical theater. And although there is nothing specifically Italian in the music, the richness, beauty, and romanticism of it also seem to capture the Florentine setting. The score is also more cohesive than other musicals. Each song is distinct, and there are differences in tempo, rhythm, and so on, but they all unmistakably fit together as a whole unit. There are no snappy production numbers, no attempts to mimic jazz or disco. This is not about song and dance. It is a love story. Guettel's music is flowing and luxuriant, but it and his lyrics, based on the book by Craig Lucas, are true to Elizabeth Spencer's way of storytelling: almost matter-of-fact, but far from cold and never taking advantage of sentimentality. The actors in this original cast recording are excellent, never straining to reach the music's more operatic heights. As with any cast recording, there is little or none of the spoken dialog, so you are always missing some of the characterizations, but even in just the songs here, there is never an impression of one-dimensionality in any of these performances, even in the smaller roles. Just as the music must be taken as a whole, with no single song standing out from the others, the actors also must be taken as a whole. The sound of the recording is very clear, but warm, bringing out the lushness of the music. The accompanying booklet contains lyrics (although a few are missing for Track 9, "Hysteria") and short notes about the musical. Because it is musically well done and enjoyable, The Light in the Piazza goes beyond just the distinction of being different from other musicals in form.
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AllMusic Review by Patsy Morita
|The Light in the Piazza, musical|