Cast chosen for Southeastern Opera Workshop’s “The Light in the Piazza”

Contact: Tonya Lowentritt
Date: September 6, 2012

      HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University's Opera/Music Theatre Workshop will present the Broadway musical, "The Light in the Piazza," on Thursday and Friday, September 27 and 28, at 7:30 p.m. at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in downtown Hammond.

     Nominated for 11 Tony awards in 2011 and winner of six, including Best Original Score for composer/lyricist Adam Guettel, "The Light in the Piazza" opened at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center in April 2005. The production ran for over a year and is one of the most original musicals to open on Broadway in many years, said Chuck Efler, director of Southeastern's Opera Music/Theatre Workshop.

     "The musical score moves away from the tradition in the last decade of using pop music as inspiration; instead, the score is based on classical, neoromantic harmonies and melodies, with lush orchestrations; the dialog is crisp and moves the plot forward at a brisk pace," said Effler. "You'll never sit in the audience and think, 'ah, I hear a song coming on,' as you might in another musical. The dialog and musical numbers are seamlessly woven together to tell the unique story of this show."

     Set in Florence, Italy, in 1953, the story follows an American woman, Margaret, and her daughter, Clara, on their vacation. Clara meets an Italian boy, Fabrizio Naccarelli, and they fall in love; but Clara is more complicated than she initially appears – a beautiful American girl on her first trip to Italy – and Margaret must embark on a personal journey that is both painful and poignant.

     Fabrizio, along with most of his family, excluding his father, speaks almost no English. His first song is sung entirely in Italian, and there's a lot of spoken Italian dialog, or broken Italian, in the case of the Americans.

     "The Columbia is a new venue for fall and spring Opera Workshop productions; the only productions that were there in the past have been summer musicals," Effler said. "The staff and cast are looking forward to working in the Columbia, which, since its renovation several years ago, is a wonderful theatre to mount this type of production."

     Opera Workshop welcomes back guest stage director Alton Geno for this production. Geno has directed recent Opera Workshop productions of "The Music Man," "The Wizard of Oz," and "South Pacific."

     Cast members include Karista Filopoulos of Abita Springs as Margaret; Bridget Lyons Zeringue of Ponchatoula as Clara; Joshua Williams of Mandeville as Fabrizio; Jarred Frey of New Orleans as Giuseppe; Anastasiia Ped of Ukraine, Kherson, as Franca; Colby McCurdy of Slidell as Signor; Sarah Bertrand of Covington as Signora; BriAnna Dewar of Slidell as Tour Guide; and Chase Ledet of Schriever as Priest.

     Ensemble members include Fiona Allen of Jackson, Jonathan Dupre of Luling, Allison Joiner of Ponchatoula, Lawrence Joiner of Loranger, Jeremy Lloyd of Baton Rouge, Amanda Lucas of Albany, Mary Marlbrough of Covington, Justin Mihalik of Geismar, and Kristina Temple of Amite.

     Effler will serve as musical director and conductor, Department of Fine and Performing Arts faculty and staff members Steve Schepker and Ellen Sovkoplas will design the sets and lighting, and Amanda Klipsch of Mandeville will serve as stage manager.

     Advance tickets are available at the Columbia Theatre box office Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will also be available beginning one hour prior to each performance. Ticket prices are $21 for adults; $16 for seniors, Southeastern faculty/staff and non-Southeastern students; and $8 for children twelve and younger. Southeastern students are admitted free of charge with their ID.

     The script for "The Light in the Piazza" was written by Craig Lucas; music and lyrics are by Adam Guettel. Opera Workshop's production is produced by arrangement with Turner Entertainment Co., owner of the original motion picture "Light in the Piazza," which was based on the novel by Elizabeth Spencer.

     For more information about the Opera/Music Theatre Workshop contact Effler at

More News...