We're on vacation! Well, not really, but Ruthie Ann Miles and Anna Zavelson are transporting us to Italy with their renditions of songs from The Light in the Piazza, which will be presented at New York City Center as part of its Encores! series. The production will run June 21 to 25. Playbill was able to film footage of Miles, Zavelson, and the cast of Piazza. See them perform "Statues and Stories" above.
Miles stars as Margaret and Zavelson plays Margaret's daughter, Clara. They are joined by Shereen Ahmed as Franca Naccarelli, Andréa Burns as Signora Naccarelli, Rodd Cyrus as Giuseppe Naccarelli, James D. Gish as Fabrizio Naccarelli, and Ivan Hernandez as Signor Naccarelli. Newcomer Zavelson was a finalist and scholarship winner at the 2022 Jimmy Awards.
Below, see Zavelson perform "The Beauty Is."
Based on the novella by Elizabeth Spencer and featuring a book by Lucas and a Tony-winning score by Adam Guettel with a book by Craig Lucas, The Light in the Piazza follows an American woman named Margaret vacationing in Florence, Italy, with her daughter, Clara. Clara then falls in love with a local man and inspires Margaret to embrace her own undreamt-of opportunities. Victoria Clark and Kelli O'Hara led the Broadway premiere of the work in 2005, with Clark winning a Tony for her performance.
Without changing a word of the script, director Chay Yew is leaning into Miles' background—the character of Margaret is now a Korean immigrant, just like Miles. It adds even more depth to the character's existing journey of building walls around herself and her child to survive in the world. Says Miles in her recent interview with Playbill, “She’s proving herself, and proving her worth, and showing outwardly that she’s not so different, that she and her daughter belong. Maybe that’s something most people think about, but certainly somebody with an immigrant mentality such as our Margaret Johnson.”
The Encores! season launched with Dear World, starring Donna Murphy and directed and choreographed by Josh Rhodes earlier this year. It was followed by Lionel Bart's Oliver!, with Encores! Artistic Director Lear deBessonet at the helm and led by Benjamin Pajak, Lilli Cooper, Raúl Esparza, and Tam Mutu.