Thursday, March 13, 2014


In 1992, Robert James Waller wrote a novel about a lonely woman who, although married with a family, felt something missing in her sensitive soul.  Her accidental meeting with a National Geographic photographer from the state of Washington changes her life.  He is in Madison County, Iowa doing a photographic essay on the covered bridges in the area.  Their relationship sparks flames of kinship and love.

Now the novel has been adapted into a new musical, "The Bridges of Madison County,"  with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown and book by Marsha Norman, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 West 45th Street, New York City.  A film had also been made starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood.

Kelli O' Hara is the searching for love and fulfillment Francesca who sings her heart out with a rich and vibrant poignancy that will almost bring you to tears while Steven Pasquale's Robert Kincaid is the handsome stranger who invades her quiet life and churns it into glorious possibilities.

Hunter Foster plays Bud Johnson, Francesca's husband, the staid and serious man who cares deeply for his family.  Now he is traveling with his kids Carolyn (Caitlin Kinnunen) and Michael (Derek Klena) to the Iowa State Fair for three days to show Carolyn's cow Stevie in the hopes of winning a blue ribbon in the 4H National Finals.

Eighteen years before, Bud had been a soldier in the Army, stationed in Italy, where he met Francesca. She was still reeling from the death of her fiance and she clung to Bud, as her chance for a new life.  While Francesca has security and a loving family and good neighbors like Marge (Cass Morgan) and Charlie (Michael X. Martin), she knows something is lacking in her life in the Iowa corn fields.

When Robert Kinciad walks into her world, with an air of mystery and adventure, of danger and of caring, Francesca is faced with a momentous decision.  Can she leave what she knows and holds dear, her husband and children?  Can she grab the gold ring on Robert's merry-go-round that is so tempting?  Bartlett Sher directs this wonderfully schmaltz story of longing and fulfillment, devotion and promise, on an interesting puzzle piece set designed by Michael Yeargan.

Songs like "Falling Into You" and "Before and After You/One Second and a Million Miles" soar with emotion, with almost operatic intensity.

For tickets ($59 and up), call Telecharge at 212-239-6200 or 800-432-7250 or online at  Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

A lifetime of love is encapsulated in a few days of wonderful desire as a chance encounter has far-reaching consequences and an incredible sweetness.

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