Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas' long-aborning new musical, The Light in the Piazza, will receive a workshop at the Sundance Institute's 2002 Theatre Laboratory. The show, based on Elizabeth Spencer's 1960 novella, "The Light in the Piazza," is about a retarded American woman's romance with an Italian man in Florence.
The Theatre Laboratory will run July 8-28 in Sundance, UT. The goal of the lab is to "develop their new theatre works or to explore new approaches to existing scripts, without the pressure of production." Past works nurtured at Sundance include Yellowman by Dael Orlandersmith and Hollywood Arms by Carol Burnett and Carrie Hamilton. This year's event is dedicated to Hamilton, who died earlier this year. Hollywood Arms is currently in previews at the Goodman Theater in Chicago.
Lucas recently joined Guettel as the latter's new collaborator on Piazza. Previously, Alfred Uhry was connected to the project. Guettel himself described the new work as a love story. "The goal is to really make the audience feel like they're in love or desperately want to be in love...I just want people to feel that feeling for those two hours," Guettel told Playbill On-Line in February 1999.
The musical was intended to be workshopped at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and produced at the Goodman Theater in the first few years of the millennium, as part of Guettel's unique composer-in residence status with both companies. However, Guettel withdrew himself from the Brena and Lee Freeman Sr. Composer-in-Residence program in April 1999, six months after he accepted, "due to time constraints inherent in the property he is developing," according to a statement from Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Lyric Opera general director William Mason, Goodman artistic director Robert Falls and Guettel all agreed "that the window of time is simply too limited to make production possible with the two Chicago companies," according to a statement. Guettel is primarily known for the critically-hailed and widely-produced Floyd Collins. His other works include Saturn Returns. Lucas' many plays include Prelude to a Kiss, Blue Window, The Dying Gaul and Stranger.
Also set for the 2002 Sundance lab are:
- Crowns by Regina Taylor, adapted from a book of photos and interviews by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry, with choreographer Ronald Brown and composer Darryl Waters.
- Adoration of the Old Woman by Jose Rivera, about a troubled, young Latina who travels from her home in New Jersey to her dying great grandmother in Puerto Rico. Director Jo Bonney is at the helm.
- The Paradise Project by John Kelly, a theatrical meditation on the 1945 French cult classic, "Children of Paradise." Composer Michael Torke and lyricist Mark Campbell provide songs.
- Fraulein Else written by actress Francesca Faridany and directed by Stephen Wadsworth, an adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's 1924 novella.
- San Francisco writer-performer Josh Kornbluth's new untitled solo "about the U.S. tax system, romance, and a surprising twist in the author's life that impacts his understanding of the law." David Dower directs.
Bel Canto by Boston-based playwright and director Daniel Alexander Jones, a new play about an African-American teenager who discovers both the world of classical opera and his homosexuality. Robbie McCauley directs.
—By Robert Simonson