“The Bridges of Madison County” is one of the best-selling books of the last hundred years. Robert James Waller wrote the novel in 1992 and it was adapted to film in 1995 and into a musical in 2013. The musical features music and lyrics by the imminent Jason Robert Brown and book by Marsha Norman. Kensington Arts Theatre’s production is directed by Craig Pettinati.
…a story of timeless love and commitment. It explores the meaning of “home” and where one can find it.
The story is set in a small town in Iowa in 1965. An Italian-American housewife, Francesca (Elizabeth Hester) has crossed paths with a wandering photographer for ‘National Geographic,’ Robert (Jonathan M. Rizzardi). They engage in a beautifully romantic 4-day affair and fall in love.
Hester’s Francesca was nuanced and gentle. Her silky soprano fit the role well. She sang “To Build a Home” with a hauntingly wistful quality and she soared on the piece “Always Better.”
Rizzardi has a powerful yet smooth voice that matched Hester’s well on the duets. He truly stood out on his solo pieces, particularly “Wondering” and “It All Fades Away.” He is also a dynamic actor and brought the depth and complexities of the character of Robert to light in a gentle way.
The cast also included a brash yet sensitive Christopher Gillespie as Bud, Francesca’s husband. Their two children Michael and Carolyn were played by James Swindell and Annie Coulson respectively. Jessica McLanahan played Marian, Robert’s ex-wife, and sang the lovely ballad “Another Life.” Their nosey yet compassionate neighbor Marge was played by Malarie Zeeks and her husband Charlie was played by Jon Simmons. The ensemble was rounded out with Allison Meyer and Mia Blackman.
The musicians played the complicated Brown score well under the baton of Stuart Y. Weich. They paired with the singers well.
Matt Karner designed the set which had to transform from the kitchen to the state fair. He used projections as the centerpiece of his design, including a frame around the projection area, reminiscent of Robert’s profession.
“The Bridges of Madison County” is considered to be a story of timeless love and commitment. It explores the meaning of “home” and where one can find it.
Running Time: 3 hours with intermission.
“The Bridges of Madison County” runs at Kensington Arts Theatre through November 18. For tickets are more information click here.