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An Interview with Marie McManama, our Franca Naccarelli

Marie McManama is portraying Franca Naccarelli in FST’s THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA, running December 4-13 in the Overture Center’s Playhouse.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a soprano from St. Louis, Missouri, an active opera singer in the Midwest, and I’m currently the soprano Studio Artist with the Madison Opera. I’m touring as the Queen of the Night in Opera for the Young's production of THE MAGIC FLUTE. I’m proud to be a founding member of Madison's professional chamber choir the Madison Choral Project, and I maintain a private voice and violin studio through the Arboretum Music School. I attended CCM in Cincinnati where I studied with Bill McGraw and Gwen Detwiler. I come from a family of professional musicians, although neither side is sure where I got my singing voice.

What training, teachers, or experiences helped you to develop as a performer?

Every one of my experiences on stage and backstage have enhanced my performance skill set. I have been on the stage since I was 6 years old in various settings as an actor, dancer, singer, violinist, pianist, soloist, ensemble member, and crew member. I learned something every time continue to grow with each production I am involved in.

What attracted you to THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA?

I had never seen the show and I knew nothing about it, but when I learned “The Beauty Is” for the GUYS AND DOLLS audition I was intrigued by the splendor of the music. Now that I am in the thick of studying Franca and her relationships with the Naccarelli family I have fallen in love with the show, its themes, and its messages.

Tell us a bit about your character, Franca Naccarelli.

Franca is a strong Italian woman in her late 20s constantly dealing with the pain of her cheating husband. However, it is clear that Franca has no plans to leave her husband despite his infidelity, and there is still real love between them. She withholds children from her husband as a way to get back at him for his affairs, although it pains her to do so. Regardless of her suffering she welcomes Clara into her family the best way she knows how.  

Can you share a story about your best moment on stage?

My best moment on stage would have to be the decision to date my husband. We were both singing the French opera concert at CCM and the men were on the opposite side of the stage from the women. During the entire dress rehearsal we were making silly faces at each other and everyone around us was witnessing the beginning of our relationship. We've been together ever since!

What inspires you?

Learning new things always excites me. There are so many fascinating things in the world—in other countries, in other cultures—and there is always something to discover. I love trying new recipes, reading about advances in science, and getting to know what inspires others. A new friendship, a new perspective, or a new experience is possible every day.