By TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For 21st Century Media
Can love conquer all? That’s a question happily explored in the musical “The Light in the Piazza.” The show shines bright on the Villanova University stage through April 13.
Peter Andrew Danzig plays Fabrizio, a 20-year-old Italian boy in 1950s.
“He’s coming of age and trying to figure out what it means to be a man and take responsibility for his actions,” he said. “He’s also discovering what it means to love and be loved.”
He’s filled with “romantic notions that make people swoon,” Danzig said. “He shows up with flowers and serenades. He’s chivalrous, adventurous, exciting.”
Danzig thinks Fabrizio is endearing because he’s unapologetic about wearing his heart on his sleeve.
“I don’t necessarily do that. American men, we grow up trying to keep our feelings hidden,” he said. “To be able to play a character who’s so open to love and expression and who’s emotionally free — that’s most thrilling.”
His partner on stage is Christine Petrini, who plays Fabrizio’s love interest, Clara. She’s a young American woman — a Southern belle — traveling to Italy for the first time and she meets this man and falls head over heels.
“Clara is blossoming. To experience the culture and history of someone else’s home inspires you to experience the beauty of life,” Petrini said.
Having led a sheltered life, Clara’s traveling to Italy “allows her to have the freedom to discover herself. She’s free and open and honest always,” Petrini said.
The minute she sees Fabrizio, “something grounds her to the Earth. She feels like she knows him,” Petrini said. “A big part of the show is so simple and romantic — how important it is to connect with someone who sees you.”
Danzig and Petrini play a couple in love in this play, their last as acting scholars in Villanova’s Masters of Theatre program. They also started their academic acting program as a couple in a show two years ago. “Piazza” is like coming full circle and they both enjoy working as a team.
“She has a magnificent voice and she’s so available and open and ready to play on stage,” Danzig said of Petrini. “When I’m up there, I feel comforted that she’s my partner. She’s brilliant.”
It’s a mutual admiration society for these two.
“Working with Peter is amazing. We have developed a friendship over the two years in school together. And he’s extremely supportive as a performer as a person,” she said. “He goes out of his way to make me feel comfortable on stage. I’m never leery that Peter’s going to do something I didn’t see coming. It’s meaningful to share this experience.”
The two take pride in what they’re doing and want each other to succeed.
“It’s about our relationship and how we react to each other,” Petrini said. “Whatever I can feed to him, he can play off of and vice versa. I know he’s there for me that way.”
And they both love this story, a romantic musical that just right for all audiences and this time of year.
“It’s family-friendly and wonderful,” Danzig said. “And it’s a good way to usher in spring and remind us of all the beauty that’s in the world.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: “The Light in the Piazza”
WHERE: Villanova Theatre, Vasey Hall, Villanova University, 800 Lancaster Ave., Villanova.
WHEN: Through 13.
TICKETS: $21-$25; discounts for seniors, students, and groups.
INFO.: Call (610) 519-7454 or check www.theatre.villanova.edu.
CONNECT: On Twitter @VillanovaU