It had already hosted, for instance, an intimate presscon to announce the casting of Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as Margaret Johnson, the role that won for Victoria Clark the Best Actress trophy at the 2005 Tony Awards. Karylle, cast as Margaret's daughter Clara, had also performed songs from the musical before prospective buyers, in tandem with guest actor Fred Lo who stood in for the American actor who was supposed to fly in and play the young Italian Fabrizzio, Stephen Mark Lucas.
Had it pushed through, this Light in the Piazza would have also featured the scenery designed by acclaimed NY-based Filipino set designer Joey Mendoza, whose last work in Manila had been the beautifully stylized set for Repertory Philippines' Little Women late last year. Joey has given me kind permission to post his Piazza sketches on this blog, along with his brief notes, which I find a perfect complement to his images. Ah, too bad we're not seeing this ravishing scenery realized onstage this year. [Slideshow of enlarged images here.]
Credit should also go to Jaime del Mundo who is/was the production director. The set, of course, was designed to conform to the Meralco Theater's rather unusual features. Mr. del Mundo wanted me to suggest that the show “is bits of Margaret Johnson's memory”--her first line in the show (to the audience): “What happened here? I played a tricky game in a foreign country... What did I do?”
The set is anchored in a Florentine piazza--each scene morphing from the basic set. Scrim panels, with fragments of paintings from the Uffizi museum--with a Madonna- and-child motif--give a nominal suggestion of location. They are blurry and at times opaque. It is, of course highly romanticized--and ubiquitously bathed in golden light--except when they are briefly in Rome where the light is harsh. The star, of course is, well, “the light.”