PLAYBILL VIP SPOTLIGHT: NYC High School Staging of Light in the Piazza Hits Home With Tony Winner Victoria Clark

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18 Apr 2013

Thomas Luke Guest with co-star Kaitlin Cullen-Varhauz
Thomas Luke Guest with co-star Kaitlin Cullen-Varhauz

Adam Guettel's Tony Award-winning musical The Light in the Piazza glimmers anew in its New York City high school premiere at the Beacon School. The son of the production's original Broadway star, Tony Award-winning actress Victoria Clark, is among the students inhabiting the complex musical.

Located just blocks away from the Lincoln Center campus, where The Light in the Piazza made its Broadway premiere in 2005 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, the Beacon School production of Guettel and Craig Lucas' romantic musical that explores the many phases of love and the shifting relationship between parent and child begins performances April 18.

Clark, who won a Tony Award for portraying protective mother Margaret Johnson in the Broadway production, is experiencing a full-circle moment as the parent of Beacon senior Thomas Luke Guest, who portrays Signor Naccarelli in the production.

View the PlaybillVIP for Beacon's Light in the Piazza here. 

Thomas Luke, who goes by TL, was eight years old when his mother first began performing Piazza – initially at Seattle's Intiman Theatre, which was followed by a run at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. A ten-year-old by the time Piazza bowed on Broadway, he was his mother's date at the 2005 Tony Awards, where she won for Best Actress in a Musical.

"I surprisingly remember a lot [about Piazza], but it's very different watching it form the outside than experiencing it from the inside," he said. "It's so rewarding in a different way than just watching it and being an audience member. You have to give so much of yourself to the performance, and I'm relatively new to the whole musical theatre thing so this is a really amazing thing with this cast. The cast is phenomenal."

Playbill cover for the production

Despite hailing from a musical household, the Beacon production marks a rare stage appearance for TL, who is best known on the soccer field. "He never had time to perform because he's a star athlete," said Beacon theatre teacher Jo Ann Cimato, who also stages The Light in the Piazza at the school. TL is heading to college this fall as a soccer recruit at Williams College.

"I've never pushed music or theatre on TL even though he's really gifted, and he has one of the prettiest voices I've ever heard - and I would say that even if I wasn't his mom," Clark admits, laughing. "Theatre is in his blood, and he's been around music his whole life."

"I've always been by her side throughout every show she's done," TL said, "but it's been fun being thrust into this show – especially because the feeling you have – it's actually the creation of the show. I feel like working with the cast, and working with the director, and the choreographer, and the music director–creating your own identity for yourself within the show–is something that I've seen my mom do from an outward point. Now I'm sort of able to really understand what the process is like."


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