Kimberly Whalen and Curt Mega in The Light in the Piazza.
Lawson Taitte, writing in The Dallas Morning News, says that Kimberly Whalen, the star of Theatre Three’s current production of The Light in the Piazza, “sings like an angel in one of those Florentine frescoes.” And I couldn’t agree more. She plays Clara, the central role in the musical about a young woman who falls in love with a young Italian man (Curt Mega) while vacationing with her protective mother (Wendy Welch).
If your only experience seeing musicals is in Fair Park Music Hall when the Dallas Summer Musicals shows come to town, get thee to Theatre Three’s space. I attended a preview performance last week, my first time seeing a show in Theatre Three’s in-the-round setup, and the idea I kept coming back to is the incredible closeness that the space provides to the performers. I was seated in the second row, and there were times when it felt like Ms. Whalen was singing directly to me (though she and the rest of the cast smartly avoid any kind of eye contact — that would just be awkward).
The result is a more intimate theatergoing experience. At the bigger halls, if your seats are up close, you’re actually beneath the performers; if they are far away you are above them. So there’s something unique about being virtually at eye level with Piazza‘s actors — not only are you hearing the singing, but you are seeing all their facial expressions and movements in detail. In addition to her lovely singing voice, Ms. Whalen is a perfect choice for Clara because she has incredibly expressive eyes — full of wonderment at the show’s beginning and despondence near its end. At other venues, that would have been lost on most viewers, but at Theater Three, its all right there in front of you.
Photo credit: Theatre Three