Tag Archives: Liam Tamne

The Light in the Piazza
★★★

Royal Festival Hall

The Light in the Piazza

The Light in the Piazza

Royal Festival Hall

Reviewed – 18th June 2019

★★★

 

“Guettel’s score is drenched in a lush, autumnal style, with orchestrations that are truly gorgeous”

 

The Light in the Piazza lands in its London premiere with a level of prestige – it scooped up no less than six Tony Awards during its Broadway run in 2005. While the musical consequently carries with it an inherent air of quality, it also finds itself emblematic of the genre as a whole, as it glosses over and romanticises subject matter which deserves a little more nuance.

Based on the 1960 novel by Elizabeth Spencer (which was also released as a film two years later), The Light in the Piazza follows the journey of Margaret Johnson (Renée Fleming), whose developmentally disabled daughter Clara (Dove Cameron) falls in love while the pair are on holiday in Florence with Fabrizio Naccarelli (Rob Houchen). Margaret grapples with letting go of her child and allowing her to live independently with Fabrizio, although in doing so she never fully discloses the nature of Clara’s disability to the Naccarelli family; it’s a decision that comes with huge ethical implications and ramifications, albeit ones that the show seems quite happy to ignore.

Adam Guettel’s score is drenched in a lush, autumnal style, with orchestrations that are truly gorgeous, and Kimberly Grigsby’s conducting makes the music feel like it fully lives and breathes with the characters and the story. Despite that the style starts to feel somewhat overfamiliar in the latter half the show, there are still a variety of hugely enjoyable numbers, such as Say It Somehow and Let’s Walk. Guettel’s lyrics and Craig Lucas’ libretto are full of quirks, wit, and humanity, but neither feel like they genuinely facilitate any true depth to the themes or characters. Despite this, there are some excellent performances on display in Piazza, particularly Fleming as Margaret, who keeps guilt and uncertainty bubbling underneath a frothy exterior, and Alex Jennings as Signor Naccarelli, whose charm and self-assuredness beautifully counterbalances the more melodramatic facets of the other characters. Every single member of the cast delivers immaculate vocals, and Robert Jones’ scenic design and Mark Henderson’s lighting harmoniously provide some stunning aesthetics. Piazza is undoubtedly a visual and aural treat.

However, the substance simply isn’t there to support it. Understanding and misunderstanding are prominent themes in Piazza – the Johnsons don’t speak great Italian and the Naccarellis don’t speak great English so their meanings aren’t always perfectly conveyed to each other, and some scenes and songs are entirely in Italian, so that the audience have to rely on the visual storytelling alone (which, thanks to Daniel Evans’ direction, is stellar). It suggests that the love between Clara and Fabrizio transcends barriers such as language or disability, but the fact that Fabrizio falls so swiftly for a woman with the mental and emotional capacities of a twelve-year-old draws allusions to the seedy over-sexualisation of young girls in society, and the fact that Fabrizio isn’t made aware of long-term effects that the disability will have on the relationship makes the romance feel unearned and untrue. And unfortunately, Piazza hinges itself on the romance.

 

Reviewed by Tom Francis

Photography by Dewynters

 

SOUTHBANK CENTRE logo

The Light in the Piazza

Royal Festival Hall until 5th July

 

Last ten shows covered by this reviewer:
The Bay At Nice | ★★½ | Menier Chocolate Factory | March 2019
Waitress | ★★★★ | Adelphi Theatre | March 2019
Creditors | ★★★★ | Jermyn Street Theatre | April 2019
Miss Julie | ★★★ | Jermyn Street Theatre | April 2019
Mortgage | ★★★ | Tristan Bates Theatre | April 2019
Coral Browne: This F***Ing Lady! | ★★ | King’s Head Theatre | May 2019
Delicacy | ★★★½ | The Space | May 2019
Orpheus Descending  | ★★★★ | Menier Chocolate Factory | May 2019
Regen | ★★★ | Pleasance Theatre | May 2019
Afterglow | ★★★½ | Southwark Playhouse | June 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

 

Working

Southwark Playhouse

Opening Night – 7 June 2017

 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

A fun musical buzzing with great stories, music and dance

 

 

Anything with a link to Lin-Manuel Miranda is bound to attract attention and for this alone there will be many Miranda followers who will buy a ticket to see Working which features some of his music. For a wider audience anyone lucky enough to attend this show will leave with a spring in their step and a smile on their face.

Working is the European Premiere of an extraordinary musical from Grammy and Academy Award-winner Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell) based on Studs Terkel’s 1974 best-selling book of interviews with the American workforce. It provides a portrait of the American workday told from the perspective of those so often overlooked, be it a schoolteacher, millworker, housewife care worker, nanny or waitress, amongst many.

Dean Chisnall in WORKING
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Production Photography by Robert Workman

The Southwark Playhouse has gained a reputation for staging remarkable musicals and Working should be added to the list of current must see shows. There is much to admire of this production. The set and costumes reflect a grimy industrial background, the music is expertly performed and there is an outstanding cast of twelve that exudes enthusiasm and obvious love for the show.

Taking the main parts are experienced stage actors Gillian Bevan, Dean Chisnall, Krysten Cummings, Siubhan Harrison, Peter Polycarpou and Liam Tamne. They play several different characters during the show.

 

LtoR Nicola Espallardo, Huon Mackley, Izuka Hoyle, Patrick Coulter, Luke Latchman & Kerri Norville. Photo by Darren Bell.

A further six carefully selected theatre graduates support the action and those making their professional debut are Patrick Coulter, Nicola Espallardo, Izuka Hoyle, Luke Latchman, Huon Mackley and Kerri Norville. On this showing they have a great future ahead.

The show bursts into life from the very first minute with Fabian Aloise’s thrilling choreography grabbing the audience’s attention and over the next 90 minutes there is so much to enjoy. It is high energy production that rarely stops to breathe. The lighting and sound enhances the overall experience.

A talented cast performs each of the stories expertly throughout though standout songs are James Taylor’s Millwork expertly portrayed by Siubhan Harrison; Peter Polycarpou brings a tear to the eye with Fathers and Sons and Krysten Cummings hits the spot with Just a Housewife, an anthem for a job the importance of which is often overlooked. There is a character for everyone to identify with and at the end the show we get to understand that everyone’s job is as important as everyone else’s, different though they may be.

 

Working is playing for a strictly limited season at the Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD ending 8 July 2017.

 

 

www.SouthwarkPlayhouse.co.uk