Renee Fleming stars in 'Light in the Piazza' in Chicago
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Renee Fleming stars in 'Light in the Piazza' in Chicago

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Renee Fleming

Renee Fleming stars in "The Light in the Piazza" in Chicago.

Musical theater fans will have the opportunity to see the Tony-Award winning musical "The Light in the Piazza" during the holiday season in Chicago.

"The Light in the Piazza," which stars opera great Renee Fleming, Alex Jennings of "The Crown," Rob Houchen and others, continues to Dec. 29 at the Lyric Opera House in Chicago.

The show, which is presented by John Berry and Anthony Lilley for Scenario Two and Karl Sydow, features a book by Craig Lucas and music and lyrics by Adam Guettel.

Daniel Evans, director of "The Light in the Piazza," said it's a "glorious" feeling to bring the show to Chicago. "I played Chicago as an actor 24 years ago and I loved it then," Evans said. It's his first time in Chicago as a director.

Evans said he saw "The Light in the Piazza" for the first time prior to its Broadway run when it played The Goodman Theatre in Chicago back in 2004.

In "The Light in the Piazza," character Margaret Johnson and her daughter Clara take a journey to Florence, Italy in the summer of '53. Throughout the journey, secrets are uncovered and key characters must make major life decisions.

In the show, Evans explained that both "mother and daughter have a kind of renaissance" and there's also a "change in their world view."

Part of the story, he explained, shows how people "can be transformed by love."

Renee Fleming said it's also a special treat for her to be back in the Windy City.

"Chicago is very close to my heart," Fleming said, adding she's a consultant to the Lyric Opera of Chicago. (Fleming was named the first creative consultant to Lyric Opera in 2010).

Fleming is reprising her role in "The Light in the Piazza." She's played the role of Margaret Johnson in both the production at LA Opera and London's Royal Festival Hall.

The opera star said "The Light in the Piazza" as a work is a type of "bridge between opera and musical theater."

"I saw the original production in New York and at The Goodman and fell madly in love with it," Fleming said.

In regards to the music in the show, Fleming said it's rewarding that her character has the opportunity to sing varied musical styles in the work. There's also a great deal of acting for her.

"It's a big departure from what I normally do," Fleming said.

Spending the holiday season in Chicago, Fleming said, will also be special, adding she had a great Thanksgiving while on the road. Fleming said she hopes audiences become fully engaged in the show.

Evans said it's a joy to work with Fleming on this project.

"There are no superlatives that can really do her justice," he said. "She is an extraordinary artist and so dedicated and disciplined. I've had a life-changing experience working with her."

Evans added working with actor Alex Jennings has been a wonderful experience as well. "He's one of our great stage actors," Evans said.

FYI: "The Light in the Piazza" continues to Dec. 29 at Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago. Tickets start at $49. For more information or tickets, visit lightinthepiazzathemusical.com.

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