Acting in Plays, Singing/The Light in the Piazza?


QUESTION: I've got an audition for Franca in The Light in the Piazza and I have no idea what would be a good song for her! I am racking my brains to think of another Italian character in a musical but I'm at a bit of a loss. I was thinking possibly "To Keep My Love Alive" from A Connecticut Yankee but I'm afraid it might be a bit too comic. Do you have any suggestions?

ANSWER: Hi, Rhiannon –

Thank you for the question.

Professional audition notices describe Franca Naccarelli as a legit soprano, some stating that whoever plays her needs operatic abilities. Franca’s vocal range extends from low B flat to high B. In her song, “The Joy You Feel”, the upper range floats between D5 and F5.

The composer, Adam Guettel, is the grandson of Richard Rodgers. Obviously, he was influenced by the huge number of successful shows composed by his grandfather and his two lyricist partners, Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein. These collaborations were composed in the era of Broadway musicals that preceded the use of body mics. Thus, a “legit voice” means that the singers could be heard in a standard size theatre without a microphone and sustain eight shows a week.

Consider “Falling In Love with Love” from THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE:

It’s a great song. It reflects the same range of Franca's number and is loaded with the same kind of cynicism and frustration that she feels in her marriage. Add some Italian mannerisms in your presentation – for example, on the phrases "is falling for make believe" and "is playing the fool".

I am a vocal coach to working singers and actors in the San Francisco Bay Area. When you want to make an appointment, contact me at:

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Best regards,
Sean Martinfield

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QUESTION: Hey Sean, thanks for your response. Should I perform it with the hint of a European accent? In the script, Franca has to speak Italian. On the cast recording, Sarah Berry sings in a very heavy (I think a little overdone, personally) dialect. But are they going to be keeping an ear for that?

Hi, Rhiannon –

You want more than a hint of an Italian accent. Franca is comic relief – and the gimmick is an Italian caricature.

Keep in mind that Sarah Uriarte Berry – as the original Broadway Franca – gave the performance that the producers wanted and what the composer had in mind. Her understudy and and all those who toured in the role and their understudies and swings would have delivered that same performance.

This is an element of "playing it smart" when you go to your audition. Without a doubt, your competition is working on that characterization right now.

In other words, your producer and director want or need to re-create the magic in the show that many in your audience (including the local critics) will have already seen – and expect to see again. Show them you can measure up!

Best regards,
Sean Martinfield

Acting in Plays, Singing

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Sean Martinfield


I am a professional vocal coach in San Francisco. I have published over 3300 responses related to vocal training - particularly as it relates to Musical Theatre, Pop/Standard, and Opera. I have 30 years of experience as a personal trainer to working singers and actors in the San Francisco Bay Area. I sang professionally for 20 years and know what it means to live the life of a musician. I can determine your voice category, i.e., Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Alto, Alto Belter, etc., and how to broaden and strengthen your range. Need an audition song for a Broadway Musical? I can assist you with your song selections and help you build an audition portfolio that demonstrates your vocal category and meets the requirements specified in the audition notice. I have created a vocal methodology, "The Belter`s Method". It will enable those in Cabaret and Musical Theatre to practice more efficiently because it focuses on the vocal demands of professional performers and will keep you performance-ready. If what you want is a better voice and more control over your career moves and choices, contact me at: I am also a music and cultural critic for and I interview internationally recognized musicians, singers, dancers, and recording artists -- particularly those who are now appearing or scheduled to perform in San Francisco.


As a vocal coach, I work primarily with singers and actors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. My students range from absolute beginners to working professionals, from kids to senior citizens. The vast majority of my clients come to me through recommendation. I know how to identify any singer's vocal category, i.e., soprano, tenor, alto, baritone, etc. I know how to muscle-up every singer's vocal range and to expand it beyond conventional definitions. I have developed a vocal methodology for those who want to know how to belt, THE BELTER'S METHOD. There are a number of major components to my work as a vocal coach. The first is to identify the client's vocal category and to strengthen and maximize the vocal range accordingly. Then it's about teaching a reliable vocal workout that will enable the client to gain better control of their musicianship. That includes scale work to expand the vocal range and to improve placement, breath control, and diction. Then we work on material for the audition portfolio, the immediate job or assignment, a recording session, etc. My task to is to better equip singers and actors who are hoping to or relying upon their performance skills and vocal endurance to maintain a career in the Performing Arts. My clients regularly appear in cabarets and musical productions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Some have worked in New York and gone on National Tours. For more information, Contact me at:


San Francisco State University – BA in Theatre Arts; graduate work in Theatre, Philosophy, and Comparative Reiligion. Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley – Graduate work in Ethics

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