A simple (on the surface) story of an Italian war bride and a stranger she meets while her family is out of town doesn’t seem too exhilarating. It certainly doesn’t seem like something worth turning into a musical. But The Bridges of Madison County is far from mundane. It’s breathtaking. It’s thought-provoking. It’s at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre until March 3rd and you should go see it.
Maybe you’ve read the 1992 best-selling novel. Maybe you’ve seen the 1995 movie from Clint Eastwood (earning a Best Actress Academy Award for Meryl Streep). Maybe you have absolutely no idea what the show is about, but you love musicals and want to witness something refreshing. When this musical premiered on Broadway a few years ago, I was skeptical. Wouldn’t this show make more sense as a play?
No. The Bridges of Madison County is actually a perfect musical. Original songs showcase the vocals of this small cast, with outstanding performances by everyone involved. The music created for this show help tell the deep, complicated story and helps the audience see who these characters are inside. Wife/mother Francesca Johnson (Sarah Gliko) is left to her own devices when her loving husband and two children take a trip to an out-of-town fair. By chance, National Geographic photographer Robert (Gregg Goodbrod) stops in at the Johnson family home to ask for directions. Robert and Francesca soon discover how much they have in common.
It’s not hard to see where this is headed. Not at all.
Gliko and Goodbrod are phenomenal; they were born to play these roles. Though the show is deeply heartbreaking and really makes the audience think about what they might do in similar situations, yet there is still a lot of humor. Jokes are thrown in just when you think the show might be a bit too heavy. Each actor can be serious just as much as they can be humorous. A perfect cast.
The Bridges of Madison County is hardly about bridges or the beauty of the Iowa countryside. Instead it’s about what is in your heart, your calling, what makes you feel love and happiness and what makes you feel like yourself. It’s a struggle between all of those things up against a person’s actual reality- where they are in the present, who they are now, regrets they may have along the way. It’s about impulses, acting (or not) on them. What’s right? What’s wrong? What can be done behind closed doors?
You’ll leave the show with a lot on your mind.
Many thanks to Aversa PR, and Philadelphia Theatre Company for the invite this week. A special thanks goes to the staff for a delicious post-show reception- cocktails and Mission BBQ (including a mac & cheese bar, chili, and sliders).
The Suzanne Roberts Theatre is a beautiful space. No seat is a bad seat. There’s also a good variety of affordable drinks (boozy and non-alcoholic) and snacks available. Right now, Mt. Airy Art Garage is also featuring their second of three exhibits at the theatre. The Road Not Taken exhibit displays work that perfectly pairs with The Bridges of Madison County. Beautiful photographs of landscapes, bridges, and roads from both emerging and professional artists can be seen on the mezzanine level of the theatre. Be sure to take some time to explore.
Tickets for The Bridges of Madison County are available here. You can also purchase tickets for the upcoming show, How to Catch Creation, which begins on March 22nd.