Nagkaroon kamakailan ng grand launch ang The Light In The Piazza sa MyCinema Greenbelt 3. Sa paglulunsad ng musical ay kabilang na ang mga representatives ng iba’t ibang grupo ng interested block buyers, with the sales manager in attendance.
Paano na-convince si Audie Gemora ng STAGES na i-produce ang nasabing musical?
Audie Gemora narrates, "You know, whenever it’s gonna happen, we just dream and figure out what the nice shows there are. Ano’ng puwedeng gawin?
"And these two [Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and director Jaime Del Mundo] showed me the video version of Light In The Piazza, which was first staged at the Lincoln Theater, sometime in 2005.
"I fell in love with the musical," Audie adds. "I just thought it was beautiful, in terms of the music, the story... and we decided then that we should produce another STAGES musical."
Pang-apat na musical ang The Light In The Piazza sa mga produksiyon ng STAGES.
Ang mga nauna’y ang Footloose (2006), High School Musical (2007), at West Side Story (2008). Sa High School Musical ay co-producer ng STAGES ang Trumpets.
Practically every two years ay nagpu-full blast ang outfit na pinamamahalaan ni Gemora, para sa isang malaking musical.
"Pero, I think, we decided to just do it more regularly," Audie says. "With regularity, we build an audience and eventually, the audience will just get used to watching.
"As you can see, there’s an upsurge in musicals and [theatre] productions in the Philippines.
"So, talagang we’re happy about that development, so we’d like to get in on the act. After all, we’ve been in this business a long time.
"The Light In The Piazza is going to be our musical for July... We’re aiming for 20 shows!" pag-announce pa ni Audie Gemora
The musical premieres on July 8, 2011, at magkakaroon ito ng five-weekend run hanggang August 7, sa Meralco Theater.
LOVE STORY. Just as fired up about The Light In The Piazza is its director, Jaime del Mundo.
Jaime also directed Repertory Philippines’ production of Shakespeare In Hollywood.
"The wonderful thing about The Light In The Piazza, that we thought very strongly about, like what Audie says, is that it was a love story," says director Jaime.
"But aside from being just a love story, it spoke about all sorts of love: family love; love between a mother and a daughter; love between the romantic leads [Karylle as Clara and American actor Stephen Mark Lukas as Fabrizzio]; love between a husband and a wife...
"There are many characters in Light In The Piazza, a lot of them are Italian. And two Americans. Obviously, this wonderful, sweeping story takes place in Italy."
The original musical is based on a 1960 novel by American author, Elizabeth Spencer.
Del Mundo narrates: "It tells the story of our two main characters, Margaret the mother, played by Menchu [Lauchengco-Yulo] and the daughter, Clara [Karylle], meaning ’light’.
"So The Light In The Piazza is Clara.
"Now, the mother and the daughter are vacationing in Italy, and it just happened that [into Clara’s life popped] a younger boy, Fabrizzio, and they fell in love, totally.
"The family of the boy liked Clara and, suddenly, the whole story spirals and it gets to the point where the two kids are about to get married.
"Now, throughout the entire musical the mother, Margaret, keeps trying to stop the love, the relationship, before it gets out of hand.
"And the reason she keeps trying to stop the relationship is because she does have a secret. A secret that not even Clara knows.
"And she tries her best to tell this secret to the family of the boy, in the hope that they help her stop their marriage from taking place.
"But she is unsuccessful."
Del Mundo would have gone on to tell the mother’s secret, but worries that telling would be tantamount to spilling out the story’s most important plotline.
So the director just adds, "Clara herself does not realize how different she is.
"And the boy’s family doesn’t realize either, because what they see is this wonderful, pure innocence, which they don’t understand, but feel it, as a perfect compliment to the young boy who is also just as in love."
Director Jaime adds, "It’s the mother who’s got to balance, who’s got to make the decision—whether she protects her child.
"And the mother’s dilemma is she has spent all her life protecting Clara, or she lets love find its way and let Clara go.
"That’s the ending. I won’t tell you how it ends. But it’s a happy ending."
Menchu Lauchengco has already worked with Karylle, not as her co-star but as her director in another STAGES’ musical, West Side Story, in 2008.
MOVING EXPERIENCE. At the launch, the media guests and prospective show buyers, aside from being treated to interesting storytelling by director Jaime Del Mundo were treated to a sample of songs performed by Karylle herself.
These are excerpts from what she will be performing onstage, such as the title song, "The Light In The Piazza," which Karylle sang, accompanied by Joseph Valentino on keyboards.
Inawit din ni Karylle, ka-dueto ni Fredison Lo ang "Say it, Somehow."
Si Fredison ay bagong talent-discovery ng STAGES. Gumanap siya bilang Fabrizzio, in the absence of Stephen Mark Lukas, na nasa U.S. pa sa panahon ng paglulunsad.
The director explains, "This is the first time that Fabrizzio and Clara are alone in the hotel room. And they, particularly Fabrizzio, cannot speak.
"The situation, the mood, the tension...and Clara urges Fabrizzio to express himself in the beautiful song, the beautiful duet [’Say It, Somehow’]..."
Ang solo number, meant for Fabrizzio (Stephen Lukas), but performed during the press launch by Fredison Lo, ay ang kantang "Love To Me."
Sa kuwento, ito ang eksenang may matinding emotional problem si Clara, to the point na sinabi nito sa nobyong, "I cannot marry you, because I’m not normal."
And Fabrizzio turns to her and, in this lovely song, convinces her of what is true in her.
"What’s breathtaking is the fact that the lovers do not speak the same language," natutuwang pagtukoy din ni direktor Jaime.
"The boy speaks very, very little English, and the girl speaks no Italian at all.
"And the idea that they can communicate, that they can transcend language and culture, and that their love brings them together, is just an incredible, moving experience!
"It’s something that, I’m sure, the local audiences will love and identify with," sambit pa ng direktor.
Sa pagtatapos ng nasabing launch, director Jaime, Audie Gemora, and Menchu invite everyone to watch The Light In The Piazza when it opens in July.
When the director asks Menchu how she feels about playing the role of Karylle’s mom in the musical, the singer-actress says she is happy that from being "next" to normal, "at least, I’m normal here."
Kalalabas lang ng multi-talented na si Menchu sa play na Next to Normal, isang Broadway drama mounted by a local group. Tungkol ito sa isang inang may depression at breakdown. Si Menchu ang gumanap sa mahirap na papel ng ina.