Presented by Davine Interventionz
Review 24 February 2016
David Gauci’s production company, Davine Interventionz, has a strong pedigree for putting on high quality musicals not seen before in Adelaide. Continuing in this tradition, director Hayley Horton has taken on the classically-inspired show, The Light in the Piazza. The show follows Clara Johnson, an American girl, on holiday in Italy where she falls in love with the charming Italian, Fabrizio Naccarelli. As is to be expected, something is not quite right about their relationship as Clara’s mother, Margaret, attempts to end it to in order to protect them both. The musical and performance demands for this show are very high and, whilst being very close, this cast does not quite reach the standard.
Kristin Stefanoff as Clara and Lindsay Prodea as Fabrizio both deliver strong performances but these are not without fault. Stefanoff brilliantly portrays Clara’s naiveté but sometimes this blurs deeper parts of her performance. As usual, Prodea’s voice is wonderful but he struggles with higher portions of the score, leading him to fall slightly flat. The standout of the show is undoubtedly Katie Packer as Margaret. Although she took some time to warm into her character and accent (possibly due to opening night nerves), by the end of the production her touching performance and strong voice shone through.
In secondary roles, David Visentin, Irene Castrechini-Sutton, Lisa Simonetti and Andy Trimmings all act and sing wonderfully. Both Visentin and Simonetti have deeply moving moments, sung and acted to perfection. Tim Blackshaw was wonderful in his two short appearances as Clara’s father with strong naturalistic acting.
The ensemble is problematic and comes across as awkward. Often they show very little purpose and serve only to clutter the small stage. An honourable mention should go to Chris Daniels who flawlessly covered a smashed saucer on opening night. This awkwardness largely comes down to directorial choices by Horton. Movement seems unnatural and acting tending to be overdone. On such a small stage a simpler, cleaner look may have been a wiser choice.
Set design was appealing to the eye but changes were clunky and the need for crew members to come onstage during key plot moments was very distracting. Lighting was functional but a few cues were missed – these should be smoothed out over the season. A huge issue was the sound as dialogue became crackly and occasionally overloud. Luckily this does not affect the cast’s wonderful singing.
The show’s most complex element is the score and seasoned Musical Director Peter Johns and his small band handle it well. Even with only five members, the sound was strong and placing them next to the stage really serves the music well.
Performance requirements for The Light in the Piazza are incredibly high and the cast and crew did well to handle its many complexities. Although the level of professional polish is not as high as some of the company and production teams’ past work, this is undoubtedly a wonderful way to experience a show unlikely to be seen in Adelaide again soon.
Rating (out of 5): 4
Reviewed by Nathan Quadrio
Venue: Star Theatre
Season: 24 February – 5 March
Duration: 2 hours
Tickets: $30 – $36