Letter to the Editor: Review of ‘Light in the Piazza’ an afterthought

The Lathorn’s February 9th review of GVSU Opera Theatre’s production of “The Light in the Piazza” was disappointing. More alarmingly, though, is how predictable of a disappointment the piece turned out to be. Every year, Grand Valley’s top musicians work for months, in addition to their classes and jobs, to put this great university’s stamp on a work of opera or musical theatre. Every year, it’s a great show. And every year, The Lanthorn’s coverage of this Grand Valley staple is, at best, an afterthought.

Despite past injustices, this year takes the cake. The review’s lack of relevant content begs the question of whether or not someone from The Lanthorn actually attended any of last weekend’s performances. If a student were to come across the “review” s/he would gain the following: the show happened, there is a male character, there is a female character that is double-cast, and some characters speak Italian. A reader might infer that the show contains a love story (an odd plot point to exclude, indeed). However, no amount of reading between the lines would allow anyone to discover that the story’s main character, Margaret Johnson, even exists, let alone how wonderfully both Lynnae Myers and Caitlin Cusack bring the complex character to life.

For the record, “The Light in the Piazza” is inarguably one of the best musicals ever produced on Broadway. Anecdotally, many of GVSU’s music faculty have described this year’s offering at Louis Armstrong Theatre as the best musical this university has ever produced. Based on Elizabeth Spencer’s novella of the same name, this rarely-produced show has proven to be a wonderful opportunity for members of the Grand Valley community. It’s too bad no one will have gathered that from the voice of the university, The Lanthorn.

While this plea will not help raise awareness for this year’s production, hopefully it can serve to bring future casts the regard they are due. It’s time for a change. The author, Cory Finkbeiner, is not to blame. This paper is in need of a culture shift regarding the musical productions of its own university. For instance, last year’s production of “L’Enfant Et Sortileges” was not even afforded a review; though, there was a great A&E piece discussing Americans’ inability to recite the lyrics of “The Star Spangled Banner” the week after the show closed. Omissions of this sort are a disservice to the cast, Grand Valley students, and the university.

Grand Valley is forunate enough to have talent that doesn’t require lip service. Many school newspapers would give anything to drop their euphemistic fluff pieces for the chance to honestly and thoroughly review top-notch student productions. The hard work of everyone involved in these performances gives The Lanthorn that opportunity. As a former student, former cast member of GVSU Opera Theatre, and former Lanthorn employee, I look forward to this fine paper giving these students the respect they deserve.

Go Lakers.