Last night my husband and I went on a date to Theatre Calgary to watch the modern musical ‘The Light in the Piazza’. One of my favorite dates is to see performances with my husband, as we met in a community theater play and it is one of our shared loves. The wonderful thing about watching theater is that you get to experience new places through the eyes of the writer of the show as well as the performers. It’s like reading a book, but with music and speaking. And you get a full story in 2.5 hours. Plus, there is the added bonus of a bar most places. Theatre Calgary has wonderful shows they put on throughout the year, and while this season is at an end, I am excited for next season too! You can check out their upcoming shows here!
We didn’t know much about the musical before arriving at the theater except that it was a love story about a young American girl named Clara and an Italian boy named Fabrizio. The overarching theme of romantic love was accompanied by a theme of parental love between Clara and her mother Margaret and Fabrizio and his father. While I’m not going to claim to be an expert in theater reviews, I do have a number of years of experience of performing in community theater and as well as over 10 years of musical training with instruments and voice, so I do have a pretty solid understanding of music and theater.
Before I start talking about the play itself, I have to give a shout out to the orchestra and the cast. The orchestra was such a talented group of people, and I found myself thinking I was listening to a recording rather than a live band, which is the greatest compliment I can give. I’m not sure if that is a compliment in the professional world, but it is something I always strived for when I performed. The cast also did a wonderful job and I was completely transported to their world, rooting for the lovers and wanting to know more about Clara. They also did a wonderful job with incorporating the Italian language into a English play. I found it helpful to have read the program before hand with the Italian terms, but when you’re in love, or pain, if you sing in Italian or English, you can still get a general idea of what is being said.
What impacted me most throughout the show was the relationship between Clara and her mother Margaret. (I don’t want to ruin the show for anyone who wants to see it, so I’ll try to keep this as generic as possible.) When the show opens, it is obvious Clara and her mother Margaret share a very strong and special bond with each other. Margaret has a very strong personality and makes all the decisions while Clara goes along with what her mother says, even if she doesn’t necessarily want to. While I am a fairly easy-going parent, the relationship between Clara and her mother is one that I hope I will have one day with my daughters and son. Knowing exactly what they need, when they need it, and having them allow you to help them is not always common in parent-child relationships, but it is something I would love to have with my children.
As the show progresses, it becomes clear that Margaret is very protective of Clara. It’s hard not to judge Margaret because you just want Clara and Fabrizio to be together and she doesn’t have the same opinion. I always try not to judge parents on their parenting decisions, but it’s not easy. We all have our own opinions as parents, and it’s very hard to sway those ideas. In this case, Margaret seemed to be getting in the way of Clara’s happiness. It seems selfish of a parent to prevent their child from pursuing something that makes them happy, even if it is an Italian boy. What could be so bad about Clara, a sweet and innocent young lady that she can’t follow her heart?
When I found out why Margaret was protecting Clara, I wasn’t so frustrated with her anymore. Do I think she was right in overprotecting her daughter? No. But as a parent, it is hard to know if what you are doing is right or wrong. All you can do is your best at the time, and hope it is right for your child. I think this is something that rings true to every parent out there. You want your child to be happy and avoid pain. If you can do that for them, why wouldn’t you? Of course, eventually, you have to let your child make their own decisions and let them learn how to handle pain, but it isn’t something any parent enjoys doing.
I think that most of the time, our children are more than capable of handling the challenges of the world. We can’t protect them forever, but if we support them during those hard times it will be a lot better for them becuase they can learn how to handle themselves. One day we won’t be there to help them, and hopefully they will remember how they dealt with those challenges with our help and propel themselves forward without us.
I really enjoyed the story of ‘The Light of the Piazza’ and loved listening to the challenging music they sang. I would definitely recommend seeing it if you get a chance! Full disclosure though, while I really enjoyed the show, my husband was less of a fan because he likes the more traditional, happy go lucky, everything gets tied up in a perfect bow type of show. I found the ending happy, but not perfect, which I think is reminiscent of life. And parenting.