Penn State Centre Stage will close out its 2016-17 season with the exhilarating musical “The Light in the Piazza,” running through April 15 at the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center.
The play is based on a novella by Elizabeth Spencer. The story is set in the 1950s and follows the Italian travels of Margaret Johnson, a wealthy Southern woman, and her stunningly beautiful yet developmentally stalled daughter, Clara. When a dashing young Italian captures Clara’s heart, Margaret is compelled to reveal the secret about her daughter. Even as she struggles with concern about Clara’s future, she must decide whether to release her hold — and bravely give the young lovers her blessing.
“ ‘The Light in the Piazza’ centers around Americans Margaret Johnson, and her daughter Clara during their vacation in Florence, Italy in 1953,” Evans said. “In the piazza, Clara’s hat is swept away by the wind. Fate intervenes and the hat is returned to her by a handsome young Italian named Fabrizio. It is love at first sight. Destiny. But Clara and Margaret are hiding a secret.”
Talia Suskauer portrays Margaret.
“I believe we are both tactful and resourceful — Margaret would do anything for the ones that she loves, and I definitely share that same quality,” Suskauer said. “She is protective, as am I, and she has a wonderful sense of humor. I feel so lucky to be able to play this remarkable woman — her strength and resilience inspires me.”
In the role of Clara is Allsun O’Malley, who said she completely immersed herself in the script and source material. O’Malley said she knew from the first rehearsal that this was going to be a special experience.
Clara is witty, clever, passionate, intuitive and full of life. Throughout the process, O’Malley has found that she can relate to Clara in a lot of ways.
“The cast has such chemistry and we’ve had a blast working together over the past few weeks,” she said. “The director and music director, Darcy Evans and Chris Rayis, have brought the show to life with their brilliant direction and vision. The cast has worked so hard to bring each character to life and do justice to this incredible story.”
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Suskauer thinks that the message of this show can be perfectly summed up in a lyric that her character sings at the end: “Love if you can, and be loved.”
“I really think that this lyric speaks for itself,” she said. “If the audience were to walk away with one thing, I would really hope it would be this important message.”
IF YOU GO
- What: Penn State Centre Stage’s “The Light in the Piazza”
- When: through April 15
- Where: Penn State Downtown Theatre Center, 146 S. Allen St., State College
- Info: www.theatre.psu.edu