What's outstanding at the Shaw Festival

WXXI-FM listener William H. Petersen of Fairport (he's also Emeritus Dean & Professor of Bexley Hall Seminary) recently made an excursion to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Here is his rave.


 We and our friends from Toronto met for lunch at the Oban Inn (highly recommended!) and then went to “A Light in the Piazza” by Craig Lucas (book) and Adam Guettel (music & lyrics). The musical is based on the novel of the same name by Elizabeth Spencer. The production appears by arrangement of the original the owning company of the motion picture also of the same name.


As the director writes about the story: “The simplicity of the relationship between a young woman from North Carolina and a young man from Florence, Italy is necessitated by language barriers but also distills love down to its essence. Everyone in the play is affected by the purity of their expression of love.” Later his program notes continue: "And then there’s the light. The light of Florence...that stands for so many vital things: love, hope, truth – all the big, good ineffable things. I love this musical because it tackles the big questions with humour, with great humanity, and is absolutely unafraid to wear its pulsing, questioning heart on its sleeve.” (Jay Turvey)


In the intimacy of the Court House Theatre (we had front row seats level on stage right of the floor-level proscenium that extends nearly halfway into that venue), we had excellent opportunity to observe the singers/players/dancers very closely. Yes, all of the seven principals were accomplished in all three of these areas. From the quality of singing to the interaction of the actors, from the costuming to the finely choreographed changes of scenery (by the actors themselves) in the elegantly simple but totally flexible set, everything conspired to make this one of the best and most memorable visits to the Shaw Festival that we can remember (and we’ve been doing this once per summer for over twenty years). If you get a chance, go!


If you have a fulfilling cultural experience this summer, please share it with us.  Send a message to classical-at-wxxi.org. And Happy Vacationing!