The Bridges of Madison County is a novel, movie and now Broadway Musical. Not reading the book, seeing the movie nor having any knowledge of the plot, I saw this new Broadway Musical.
For those of you who are on my page, I will give you the plot…one that seems to have no surprises.
Francesca (Kelli O’Hara), an Italian war bride, is married to a boring Bud (Hunter Foster) and living in Winterset, Iowa (It is the year 1965) with their noisy teenage children Carolyn (Caitlin Kinnunen) and Michael (Derek Klena). We also have the neighbors Marge (Cass Morgan) and Charlie (Michael X. Martin). For those of you who have watched the tv show Bewitched, there is a commonality between those neighbors and these. At times you could not be sure as to whether Marge is being nosey or understanding.
Going to the State Fair, fishing and local entertainment is fine for Francesca’s family but she dreams of the romance of Italy and one day returning.
Along comes Robert (Steven Pasquale) a photographer who seems to be on the assignment of taking photos of….the bridges of Madison County. Scruffy long hair and jeans emphasizes the “hunk”. He actually enters via the right aisle and stops just in front of the stage (I was seated at the end of the third row at that aisle). The scene is in front of Francesca’s home as he asks directions from her.
With hubby and children away the “surprise” romance begins. Will the neighbors figure it out? Will she tell her husband? I’ll leave alone to those who don’t want the “spoiler”.
Let’s get to the rest of the cast. The townspeople. Some of them sit along the sides of the stage…just sit there. When the sets get changed, the townspeople do the work without lights dimming. They are also the ensemble. There are times when it calls for one or more of the ensemble to play an instrument and actually do that. I asked someone in the orchestra pit if they were simply looking as if they were playing but covered up by an orchestra member.
Now, the cast beginning with O’Hara. Not knowing about the Italy thing, I thought that her accent was more Irish and could not figure out why she was talking about Italy. It cleared up as the show continued. Both she and Pasquale captured the emotions and excellent vocal abilities of the songs.
Solos were given to Foster and Morgan to show off their voices. As for the songs, I wouldn’t say that it is a “hit score”. There were a few tunes that will hang in your head.
All in all, I wouldn’t term Bridges of Madison County as a “must see” but if you want a Broadway Musical that’s light on the brain and totally pleasant, this is worth a ticket.