By Kristen Leinbach, Dramaturg
“Clara apprehends the world differently than her mother. [Margaret] goes through Italy with a guidebook. But the girl sees experiences, she sees the light in the piazza. She literally experiences the light as representative of her deepest feelings…That’s why the score has moments where words no longer suffice or are no longer important. It’s the feeling and light. Those things carry us. Human beings are just a conduit for love. I think Clara sees that. Love comes before her and after her.”
I asked Becca Petersen, portraying Clara Johnson, to share a little about her life as well as her experience getting to really know Clara.
“I am Becca Petersen from Carmel, Indiana. I am a senior studying Music Dance Theatre. I will be graduating in April with plans of moving to New York City! At BYU I have performed in PETER PAN as well as two years in the Young Ambassadors traveling to Southern Africa and China. These past two summers I have performed professionally at The Muny and Music Theatre of Wichita. Aside from musical theatre I love to go thrift shopping, take naps, eat out, and spend time with my friends and family.
The Light in the Piazza follows Clara and her mother, Margaret, as they travel through Italy. Clara is a very youthful girl who lives life exactly in the moment. She is bright-eyed as she sees and experiences this new place for the first time. The plot is centered around relationships: Clara’s relationship with her mother and her new budding relationship with a Florentine boy, Fabrizio. I feel that I connect with Clara on many levels. I love to travel, explore, and see new places. Because of previous travel opportunities I have had I understand what it is like experiencing different cultures and having to figure out how you fit in. In the show many of the characters, including Clara, go through big life transitions. Currently I can relate as I am getting ready to graduate, preparing to move to NY, having family members and close friends get married, and trying to understand love and relationships of my own. All of these experiences can be scary but can also be incredible if we let ourselves learn, grow, and live in them. We must allow ourselves to find the happiness and joy in all things we experience. In essence, that is what Clara does. Clara finds what makes her happy.”