New York City Stage Director Directs “The Light in the Piazza”

Grand Valley State University Opera Theatre presents The Light in the Piazza. Opening February 3rd, 2012 at the Louis Armstrong Theatre. A team of guest professionals comprises the artistic team, including New York City stage director Dorothy Danner and Chicago music director and conductor James Barnett. The score by Adam Guettel (Floyd Collins, Saturn Returns) is romantic and passionate with music and lyrics that reveal the feelings of all of the characters in soaring melodies.

Director Dorothy Danner is no stranger to the stage; she has spent the last 30 years directing over 200 productions throughout the United States, Canada, and Belgium. As well as many years as a professional actress on Broadway.

Danner began her professional acting career at the age of 15 by performing in Summer Stock productions in St. Louis. By her 18thyear, Danner moved to New York City with 33 shows under her belt. Not long after making the transition to the big apple, Danner was cast in her first Broadway show- the original Once Upon a Mattress. Danner then went on to do another 8 Broadway shows, such as Michael Bennett’s Ballroom.

Danner has also performed on numerous TV Variety shows – Perry Como, Ed Sullivan among others- as well as in several films including Mel Brook’s The Producers.

Making the transition from actor to director was an adjustment. Danner married an opera singer and she’d often go to the theatre with him. While at the theatre, Danner met the director of the opera her husband was cast in, and he asked Danner to collaborate.  “Directing wasn’t something I perused, I was pushed into it,” said Danner. “I was so fascinated by the craft.” “The director taught me concepts,” said Danner. “ And I taught him what I knew- it was great collaboration.”

Danner is a member of a theatrical family that includes actors Blythe, Harry and Hillary Danner, Gwyneth Paltrow, writer-film maker, Jake Paltrow, actress Katherine Moennig and departed brother-in-laws, violin maker William Moennig III and writer-producer Bruce Paltrow. “It was not uncommon to have Gwen’s boyfriends at the time come over for holiday meals,” said Danner. “Ben Affleck and Brad Pitt were often over.”

When asked if she had any advice for theatrical hopefuls, Danner said “use your time well and learn everything you can about your art.” “Don’t waste your time watching TV,” said Danner. “Protect your mind and dive into literature.”

The Light in the Piazza runs February 3-12, 2012 at the Louis Armstrong Theatre.


  • Friday, February 3, 2012, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, February 4, 2012, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, February 5, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
  • Friday, February 10, 2012, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, February 11, 2012, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, February 12, 2012, 2:00 p.m.

Tickets are $14 for Adults, $12.00 for Faculty, Staff, Alumni, and Seniors, and $6.00 for groups and students. Tickets are on sale now. Call 616-331-2300 for more information.