Jessica Fredrickson in The Light in the Piazza.
Photo by George Byron Griffiths
For the next few weeks, Jessica Fredrickson and Aleks Knezevich will get to rehearse their own upcoming wedding every night onstage in Theatre Latte Da's production of Light in the Piazza.
In the show, they play Clara and Fabrizio, the lovers at the center of the musical. The two will have their own nuptials in May, but the connection to the play doesn't end there. The two met at the Bloomington Civic Theatre several years ago, and started dating after playing the same roles in that company's production of The Light in the Piazza.
"I remember that when we started Piazza and went through that process I thought, 'I like the girl.' We both decided on our own to be professional, and waited to tell each other until after the show," Knezevich says.
They let their feelings be known after the closing-night party, and became inseparable following that. "We would make out onstage every night and marry each other in the show," Fredrickson says. "When I was walking down the aisle every night, I could see this happening for real."
"I felt the same way," Knezevich says.
Their relationship offstage, and their experience together in the pervious production, has allowed the two to explore more territory in their characters and their relationship with the characters. They also have a different director (Peter Rothstein for Theatre Latte Da; Joe Chvala for Bloomington Civic Theatre) this time around.
"There's a different take on every aspect of the show. For my character, we are playing a bit more with her unique characteristics and physicality. The first time around, we towed the line with a little more normal interpretation," Fredrickson says, alluding to the secret of Clara's character that becomes a vital part of the story.
The two didn't spend a lot of time going back over what had come before. "It's like riding a bike, it will come back. I wanted to leave that space for this artistic staff. It's nice to have a different perspective on it," Knezevich says.
The two shows envision the setting -- an important player in the musical -- quite differently. Chvala worked with a larger cast and created a constant flow of movement onstage. Rothstein has fewer actors, but has focused more on the buildings and setting. "The buildings become characters and they paint the story of the city very nicely," Knezevich says.
Regardless of the way it is staged, The Light in the Piazza always features a challenging score from Adam Guettel. "If you are auditioning, you should never sing a song from this show," Knezevich says.
While the score is difficult to sing, there are no wasted notes in Guettel's songs. All of the emotions the music evokes are intentional and precise, Fredrickson says.
And here's one last bit of romance from the duo: About a year ago, Knezevich took Fredrickson to a production of My Fair Lady in Bloomington. After the show, they went backstage to chat with the actors.
"He kind of disappeared, and then they brought me onstage. He sang 'Love to Me' from Piazza with the full orchestra, and then proposed. So, this show has a special meaning for us," Fredrickson says.
IF YOU GO:
The Light in the Piazza
In previews Thursday and Friday, the show opens Saturday and runs through April 7
Ordway McKnight Theatre
345 Washington St., St. Paul
For tickets and more information, call 651.224.4222 or visit online.