Almost three years ago, I went to see a musical playing at Lincoln Center about a girl who was kicked in the head by a Shetland pony as a child, and it left her changed for life. (This Shetland pony was the entertainment for her tenth birthday party...and when that Shetland pony kicked the child in the head, she would never grow mentally past the age of ten, even though her body did.)
Sixteen years later, the girl, now 26 and beautiful, but, of course, with the mentality of a 10-year-old, and her mother, who is loving but very suffocating and never quite got over the guilt of letting her child being kicked in the head by a Shetland pony when she was a child, take a trip to Florence.
They then meet a very handsome young man, the son of the local tie shop owner. He barely knows English. She has the mentality of a 10-year-old (because she was kicked in the head by a Shetland pony when she was a child.)
And yet they fall in love.
Now, this show...The Light in the Piazza...sounds really really ridiculous if you just read the plotline.
(Come on! "She was kicked in the head by a Shetland pony as a child?" And we don't find that out until well into the show. For the whole beginning, my mind kept going the soap opera route. "Hmmm...I bet the mom doesn't want her daughter hooking up with the hot son of the Florence tie shop owner because she had an affair with his father when she was in Florence 27 years ago and THEY HAVE THE SAME FATHER! GASP!" But...oh, no. The girl was just kicked in the head by a Shetland pony as a child.)
However, combine it with some of the most gorgeous music ever created, and the majestic talents of Kelli O'Hara and Matthew Morrison, two of the most best young theatre actors out there today...and they're both just so pretty!
(When Matthew and I were leaving Seth's Chatterbox at the same time a few years ago, I might have said something along the lines of, "Not for nothing, but I bet if we had children, they would have BEAUTIFUL curly hair!" Matthew nodded and went, "Seriously! They really WOULD!" I really think that meant that he was thinking the same exact thing and I just beat him to saying it first. Yup.)
I remember taking a friend along to see that show with me for my second time. I had raved about it so much, but she was unimpressed.
Her: I don't get it! She has the mentality of a ten-year-old. He doesn't know English. HOW COULD THEY POSSIBLY FALL IN LOVE? And if she REALLY had the mentality of a ten-year-old, WHY DID SHE KNOW SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO UNBUTTON HIS SHIRT LIKE THAT?
Me: Come on...it's Matthew Morrison!
Her: It still makes NO SENSE!
A year after that, Kelli starred alongside my favorite guy, Harry Connick, Jr. in The Pajama Game. Now, I think that was the first time I was ever actually WOWED and realized what acting truly was. I couldn't believe I was watching the same girl who had been kicked in the head by a Shetland pony just a few months before. She was playing a completely different type of character now, and was equally convincing in both. Kelli O'Hara is fantabulous.
(Incidentally, before The Pajama Game took over the American Airlines Theatre, Matthew starred in a show called The Naked Girl on the Appian Way. Matthew's character was quite clueless and came out with some odd stuff. I wondered if his character had also been kicked in the head by a Shetland pony as a child...)
This week, I was very happy to learn that the South Pacific revival had officially announced its cast. Matthew Morrison would be joining the show, playing Lt. Joe Cable (a role played by Harry Connick, Jr. in that TV remake in 2001) to Kelli O'Hara's Nellie. They aren't playing love interests, but Matthew will be singing "Younger than Springtime." Kelli will be singing "Some Enchanted Evening." Then they will join forces to sing "You Have To Be Carefully Taught." Matthew will die. Kelli will confront her own prejudices and realize she loves Emil. She will skip off into the sunset singing with him and his children.
(Not going to lie, for a while, I was really hoping that Peter Cincotti would randomly be chosen to play Joe Cable. I have no idea if Peter Cincotti even wants to act. Or even if he CAN act...but he did record a jazzin' version of "Bali Hai" on his second album. And he's very young, which I think Joe Cable should be...but if we can't have Peter Cincotti making hand movements in "Happy Talk", the second best would be Matthew Morrison.)
My gosh, I LOVE THIS SHOW. Not to mention, it is playing in the theatre The Light in the Piazza was in. Matt and Kelli were be recreating that magic on the same stage!
The South Pacific (one of my favorite shows of all-time!) revival has a wonderful cast and all is well with the world.
I couldn't be more excited about the cast of this show if I was in it myself.
(That's a lie. I probably would be more excited if I was in it. Not sure WHERE they could fit in some random brunette who can't sing or dance, but those Broadway people can do anything they want.)
In other very exciting casting news, the new Jersey Boy on the block is Mr. Sebastian Arcelus as Bobby Gaudio, following in the footsteps of Daniel Reichard, which is a hard act to measure up to, because he is quite possibly one of the cutest things on earth and has a beautiful voice. (My friend saw this show before I did, and came out going, "Diana is going to LOVE Bobby Gaudio..." Then I saw it and said, "I LOVE Bobby Gaudio!") Sebastian is a very talented young guy, nice as can be and has curly hair!!! He's going to knock 'em dead with his "Oh, What a Night." Congratulations, Sebastian.
To (kinda!) quote another R & H show (State Fair) "It's a grand week for casting!"
(I would also like to mention that not too long ago, a friend IMed me and suggested that Kelli O'Hara would make the most glorious Julie Jordan in Carousel. I said, "Oh, no. What if she got kicked in the head by a Carousel horse???")