2013-2014 Season,  Light in the Piazza

Meet the Musical Composer and Lyricist-Adam Guettel

by Kristen Leinbach, Dramaturg

“This is wanting something, This is reaching for it, This is wishing that a moment would arrive, This is taking chances…This is praying for it, This is holding breath and keeping fingers crossed, This is counting blessings, This is wondering when.”[1]

– Clara Johnson

Clara Johnson begins her journey in Italy feeling out of place in a world that seems to make sense.  She states “I don’t understand a word they’re saying.  I’m as diff’rent here as diff’rent can be, but the beauty is I still meet people like me.”[2]  Although lost in an Italian culture with expectations she isn’t sure that she can meet, Clara maintains her desire to discover, to explore, and to achieve her dreams.

Adam Guettel

Although Adam Guettel, the musical composer for The Light in the Piazza, began composing when he was fourteen, as a teenager in reference to musical theatre he also thought “I’m not going to have anything to do with that lame, fairy-tale, unsophisticated, boring, clunky old art form.”[3]  But musical theatre ended up becoming the path he chose.  He later stated “I knew it would just be a terrible idea to try to make a career in musical theatre, but the excitement of realizing I had the ability to tell stories through music became impossible to resist.[4]

Adam Guettel was born in 1964 and is the son of Mary Rodgers and Henry Guettel.[5]  If you think the last name Rodgers sounds familiar, then you are correct.  Adam Guettel grew up playing music for his grandfather, Richard Rodgers of Rodgers and Hammerstein.  Regarding his grandfather Adam Guettel stated “He was practically on his deathbed.  I played to him through the bedroom wall, and he told me he liked what he heard. But that was all the advice he was able to give.”[6]

Many of us have heard the beautiful music found in Oklahoma!, The King and I, and The Sound of Music, all written by Richard Rodgers and I am here to inform you that the music written by Richard Rodgers grandson in The Light in the Piazza will not disappoint.  In regards to The Light in the Piazza, Guettel stated “I wanted to write a love story, because I hadn’t found love when I wrote it and needed a ­vessel to pour all that energy into. There are melodies that are ­directly inspired by my grandfather – but I also wanted to incorporate the ­romantic language of Liszt and the ­orchestral colours of Ravel. They’re my go-to guys for that kind of ­sumptuous harmony.”[7]

As the composer for The Light in the Piazza, Adam Guettel earned two Tony awards in 2005 for Best Score and Best Orchestrations. [8] Regardless of all of his successes Guettel has still stated “Three of four times, after a period of high exposure and accolade, I have had a period of anguished paralysis and fear. And only by feeling forgotten do I find myself again and start to really focus and work.”[9]

In a world full of so many talented and wonderful people, it is easy to feel as if we have been forgotten or lost.  There is always something or someone else to live up to, but as Clara states “the beauty is I still meet people like me.”  The Light in the Piazza captures the fairy-tale like reality that we can experience throughout our lives as the ordinary can become extra-ordinary if we are willing to open our eyes, dream and fight for what we believe in.

Adam Guettel stated “I only ever had one dream about my grandfather.  I was pursuing him across a lobby in New York as he was about to get into an ­elevator. I wanted to ask him if he thought I was any good. He looked at me and said, ‘You have your own voice.’ Then the doors closed and he was gone.”[10]

We invite you to join us in the fall to experience this beautiful musical that captures how each and every one of us is an important individual and like Adam Guettel, has the ability to find your own voice.

 


[1] Lucas, Craig.  The Light in the Piazza. 19.

[2] Lucas, Craig.  The Light in the Piazza. 19.

[3] Staff of American Theatre Magazine, The American Theatre Reader (volume 2 of 2): Essays and Conversations from American Theatre Magazine (publication place: ReadHowYouWant.com, 2010), 423.

[4] Alfred Hickling, “Alfred Hickling Meets Adam Guettel, Grandson of Richard Rodgers,” The Guardian,http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2009/may/19/adam-guettel-light-piazza-curve-leicester (accessed August 1, 2013).

[5] Steven Suskin, Show Tunes: the Songs, Shows, and Careers of Broadway’s Major Composers, 4 ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2010), 393.

[6] Alfred Hickling, “Alfred Hickling Meets Adam Guettel, Grandson of Richard Rodgers,” The Guardian,http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2009/may/19/adam-guettel-light-piazza-curve-leicester (accessed August 1, 2013).

[7] Alfred Hickling, “Alfred Hickling Meets Adam Guettel, Grandson of Richard Rodgers,” The Guardian,http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2009/may/19/adam-guettel-light-piazza-curve-leicester (accessed August 1, 2013).

[8] “Tony Awards: Tony’s Trivia,” Tony Awards, http://www.tonyawards.com/en_US/history/facts/ (accessed August 1, 2013).

[9] Staff of American Theatre Magazine, The American Theatre Reader (volume 2 of 2): Essays and Conversations from American Theatre Magazine (publication place: ReadHowYouWant.com, 2010), 438-439.

[10] Alfred Hickling, “Alfred Hickling Meets Adam Guettel, Grandson of Richard Rodgers,” The Guardian,http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2009/may/19/adam-guettel-light-piazza-curve-leicester (accessed August 1, 2013).

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