As a wealthy Southern woman of the 1950s, Margaret Johnson is understandably protective of her developmentally-challenged daughter Clara. The duo head to Florence, Italy for vacation, where the cradle of the Renaissance fosters a personal renaissance in Clara, thanks to a romance with the local man, Fabrizio. For Margaret, the emotional flowering forces her to face her expectations for her daughter and her own shortcomings.
Based on a novella by Elizabeth Spencer, the music and lyrics were written by Adam Guettel and eschewed pop sensibilities for Neoromantic classical music and opera. The score features a range of harmonic shifts and heavy orchestration. The foreign nature of the characters means many of the lyrics are in broken English and Italian.
Developed at playhouses in Seattle and Chicago, the musical had its Broadway premiere in 2005 and ran for 540 performances. When it premiered on PBS’ “Live at Lincoln Center,” it drew two million viewers.
It was nominated for 11 Tony awards and won six. It also drew 11 Drama Desk award nominations and won five.
Now it comes to the Lola Phillips Playhouse at 801 Iroquois St. in Chickasaw, thanks to Chickasaw Civic Theatre. Directed by Mobile Opera’s Stacy Driskell and Scott Wright, it features the onstage talents of Sarah Wright, Tommy Rowell, Breanna Smith, Myles Garver, Tjaden O’Dowd Cox, Blake Waters, Linda Grill, Steve Alsip, Monica Ganoe, Leah Johnson, Elizabeth Anderson, Jackson Henson, Ken Austin and Glen Vanderbeek.
The production runs Jan. 23 through Feb. 1. Friday and Saturday curtain is at 7:30 p.m. Sunday matinees begin at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors, military and students. Tickets can be reserved by calling 251-457-8887 or by going to cctshows.com.