I’m not here–I’m still holed up at my undisclosed location, watching the river flow–but my Friday Wall Street Journal drama-column teaser is reaching you on schedule by way of Our Girl in Chicago, who posted it for me at the usual appointed hour. (Look at the bottom of this posting and you’ll see her stamp, not mine.)
I went to all this trouble because I wanted to be sure that the word got out about The Light in the Piazza, the new Broadway musical adapted by Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas from Elizabeth Spencer’s 1959 novella. It’s a must:
Adam Guettel, the most gifted and promising theater composer of his generation, has returned to the stage after a nine-year absence with “The Light in the Piazza.” To call it the best new musical I’ve reviewed in this space, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” included, is to understate the case. It is, in fact, the best new musical to open in New York since “Passion,” and Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater has done itself proud by bringing so important a show to Broadway….
The score, radiantly orchestrated by Mr. Guettel and conductor Ted Sperling for a 15-piece chamber ensemble built around a harp, is a shimmering evocation of Italian sunshine, dappled with touches of sorrow. Comparisons to Stephen Sondheim being inevitable, I should say at once that Mr. Guettel resembles Mr. Sondheim only in the richness of his imagination. His harmonic language is more astringent and wide-ranging, his lyrics more conversational (you won’t go away talking about his rhyme schemes). He is, in short, his own man, and in “The Light in the Piazza” he has written a musical directly comparable in seriousness of purpose to “Passion” or “Sweeney Todd” without sounding anything like either of those shows….
If you live in or near New York, make every possible effort to go. If not, Nonesuch will be releasing the original-cast CD of The Light in the Piazza on May 24. (To place an advance order, go here.)
I also reviewed Jeffrey Hatcher’s A Picasso, a play about an imaginary 1941 encounter between Pablo Picasso and a Nazi interrogator:
It’s reasonably intelligent and reasonably entertaining, though I doubt the real Picasso would have cracked quite all those one-liners under such dire circumstances (“Divorced?” “I keep trying”), much less stalked around the basement of a Paris art gallery like Groucho Marx in a tailcoat….
No link. To read the whole thing–and I have much more to say about The Light in the Piazza–buy this morning’s Journal and turn to the “Weekend Journal” section, or go here to subscribe to the Journal‘s online edition. I recommend the latter, enthusiastically.