Piazza Composer Adam Guettel Says Fresh Collaboration Helped Him See The Light

Piazza Composer Adam Guettel Says Fresh Collaboration Helped Him See The Light "One has to be alone for quite a bit of this work and that's just the reality of it," The Light in the Piazza composer Adam Guettel told Playbill On-Line about the journey his latest work has taken to the stage.

Composer Adam Guettel.
Composer Adam Guettel. (Photo by Chris Bennion)

The Floyd Collins composer-lyricist had already embarked upon writing The Light in the Piazza in 1999 with Alfred Uhry. When the collaboration did not prove fruitful, the musical was put on hold.

"I kinda gave up for a while," Guettel revealed. "I felt sort of defeated and lost and then I found Craig [Lucas] and things got going again. The process has been a joy whenever I've been around other people. It's difficult when it becomes a solitary thing and you just don't have the coordinates you need emotionally."

With Lucas signed on to write the book and direct, the work came alive again. Of Lucas' work, Guettel explains "[He] honors the requirement of writing a book for a musical — by which I mean in service of the music — and also has the effect of being a play with music. It not only serves and amplifies the power of the score, but it also somehow has its own completely legitimate profile and is unlike any other book that I know of in that respect — except for maybe Gypsy or maybe three or four others."

Guettel describes his music for work as "unrestrained romanticism."

"I had the impulse for a long time to do a love story and I had been looking for one," he said. He finally found his inspiration in the Elizabeth Spencer novella of the same title. "The great thing about the original novella, which is so craftily done, is she withholds a lot of stuff and what is absent in the writing is [a] palpable tone. The most present feeling of the storytelling is what she doesn't say, which is a challenge [to adapt]..."

The Light in the Piazza opens its world premiere run June 14 (continuing to July 19) at Seattle's Intiman Theatre, followed by a Jan. 10-Feb. 15, 2004 run at Chicago's Goodman Theatre.

The son of composer Mary Rodgers and the grandson of Broadway legend Richard Rodgers, Guettel admits that music was a given to him at an early age. "Like any boy of a certain ilk, I had aspirations to be an athlete... and pop singer and a movie star and everything else, but you kinda find your own level," he said.

"I love what I do, it's enormously rewarding and it's comforting to feel like I'm in a business which is so marginalized and rightly ridiculed that the people you generally encounter in this work are in it for the right reason," he explained. "It's just not where you're going to make millions of dollars, so the people who are doing this, really do this because they love it and it's wonderful to be around that kind of person."

Tickets to the world premiere at the Intiman, 201 Mercer Street in Seattle, WA can be purchased by calling (206) 269-1900 or visit www.intiman.org.