HART presents pitch-perfect 'Piazza'

By Mary Ann Enloe | Oct 08, 2012
Photo by: Ron Frendreis "The Light in the Piazza," a musical that follows the unexpected events of an Italian vacation in the 1950s, continues its run at HART this weekend and next.

HART's latest production, "The Light in the Piazza," is a bittersweet love story with a happy ending, and its music is some of the most difficult ever presented on the HART stage. Cast and orchestra are more than up to the challenge.

"I saw it in Chicago, and it wasn't as good as this performance," said Judy Ross at Friday night's opening. "This was splendid."

Before the show, HART executive director Steven Lloyd talked about the contributions of Western Carolina University's musical theatre department.

"We couldn't have produced this show without their talent," he said.

He was talking about WCU students Jonathan Cobrda, Tierney Leigh Cody, Joshua Jones and faculty members Dominic M. Aquilino, Kristen Hedberg and Susan Brummell Belcher, whose husband is WCU chancellor David Belcher.

Adam Guettel's Tony-award winning score is almost operatic. It requires trained, disciplined voice. Every soloist fills the bill. Clara Burrus of Canton, a graduate of the School of Music at UNC Greensboro, is perfection as the developmentally challenged Clara. Kristen Hedberg who plays her protective mother almost steals the show. Professional opera singer Susan Brummell Belcher looks and sounds as if she's in an MGM musical.

The orchestra doesn't miss a beat under the direction of Chuck Taft. He and his musicians perfectly capture the intricacies of the score. Director Charles Mills is to be commended for his command of this difficult assignment. He handles it deftly.

This one is well worth your time. Musicians especially will appreciate the skill this production requires. You won't walk away humming the theme, but you'll leave knowing you've seen exquisite theater at its best.

"The Light in the Piazza" continues its run at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 12, 13, 19 and 20, and at 3 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 14 and 21, at Haywood Arts Regional Theatre, 250 Pigeon St., in Waynesville. For tickets and more information, visit www.harttheater.com or call the box office at 456-6300.

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