|Erin Mackey is Clara and Patti Cohenour is her mother Margaret|
But Margaret hasn’t bargained for the caprice of fate, in the form of a gust of wind that blows a hat from Clara’s head into the waiting hands of a young Florentine named Fabrizio Naccarelli. Clara and Fabrizio fall for each other at first sight, and suddenly Fabrizio is everywhere in the city. He “seems to have the mysterious ability to know where we are going before we know!” Margaret observes. Fabrizio attributes that to destiny, but Margaret suspects there’s something more down-to-earth at work. In any case, she does everything she can to nip the romance in the bud. As far as she is concerned, it cannot be allowed to progress.
The reason for her resistance remains vague until halfway into The Light in the Piazza, the musical by Craig Lucas and Adam Guettel on South Coast Repertory’s Segerstrom Stage. Even when Margaret tries to explain her objections to Fabrizio’s family, she finds it impossible to say more than “Clara is…Clara…is a special child.” We will ultimately learn what she means by that, but there’s never any question that her opposition springs from a genuine concern for Clara’s well-being.
|Erin Mackey is Clara and David Burnham is Fabrizio|
“No one with a dream should come to Italy,” Margaret later observes, when hope has given way to disappointment. “No matter how dead and buried you think it is—Italy—this is where Italy will get you.”
But the story of Margaret and Clara, of Clara and Fabrizio, of the light in the piazza and all that it illuminates, is not yet over. The conclusion, when it arrives, will not offer up a simple happy ending. Real life is almost always more complicated than that—and every birth or rebirth contains seeds for future disappointment. But The Light in the Piazza ends with a mother’s wish, and the possibility that, against all odds, it will be granted.
Read more about The Light in the Piazza.