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Summer Stories at Upper Darby Summer Stage Proudly Presents, “The Light in the Piazza”

Philadelphia’s Barrymore-winning summer theatre program, Upper Darby Summer Stage, proudly announces its 2024 Summer Stories Series production of the Tony Award-winning musical, “The Light in the Piazza.” Live performances will be held on Monday, August 5, and Tuesday, August 6 at 7:00 pm. All performances will take place in the upper courtyard of the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center. Admission is $10 and will be accepted at the door.

Upper Darby Summer Stage’s Summer Stories Series is an exciting initiative that brings to life Broadway-style musicals in a concert-style format. These productions, staged outside our theater space with minimal technical elements, will invite our audiences to experience new stories unlikely to be seen on the main stage. Since its inception in 2022, Summer Stories has staged “Little Women” outside and most recently, “Next To Normal” in the round last season.

“The Light in the Piazza” will be directed by Chris Monaco with musical direction by Emily Szal Masino. Ryan Holmes will serve as stage manager with Avianna Fetrow as production assistant. Luner Eclipse Productions will serve as a co-producer as it has since the program’s inception.

Margaret Johnson is touring the Tuscan countryside with her daughter, Clara. While sightseeing, Clara – a surprisingly childish young woman – loses her hat in a sudden gust. As if guided by an unseen hand, the hat lands at the feet of Fabrizio Naccarelli, a handsome Florentine, who returns it to Clara. This brief episode, charged with coincidence and fate, sparks an immediate and intense romance between Clara and Fabrizio. Margaret, extremely protective of her daughter, attempts to keep Clara and Fabrizio apart. 

But as events unfold, a secret is revealed: in addition to the cultural differences between the young lovers, Clara is not quite all she appears. Unable to suppress the truth about her daughter, Margaret is forced to reconsider not only Clara’s future but also her hopes. “The Light in the Piazza” was nominated for 11 Tony Award nominations and won six, including Best Original Score.

When asked about the show, director Chris Monaco said, “‘The Light in the Piazza’ is a timeless love story that still finds relevance twenty years after its Broadway debut. The beauty of the show comes from the generational love stories at play. Everyone will see some form of themselves in the show. Love is represented in all its facets.”

He added, “Coming from a big Italian family, I see so much of my childhood in this show–and now, as a new parent, I see so much of my present in Piazza. At the center of the story is a tale of a mother who deeply loves her daughter. She is protective, and at times domineering, but always striving to do what is best for her. The heartbreak of the show is when she realizes the most loving thing she can do is to let her daughter go, to give her hand away in marriage.”

The concept of “light” is so often conflated with “love” in this show, but it also can be associated with joy; with walking around the world with open eyes, open minds, and open hearts, welcoming people in and beholding them with wonder and amazement. “The Light in the Piazza” will sweep people away to an Italian vista and remind them that there is nothing more remarkable or glorious than loving another person.

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