Bridges of Madison County
Harlequin Romance or Arthur and Guinevere?
The Bridges of Madison County that opened at the Benedum in Pittsburgh last night has the steaminess of a Harlequin Romance Novel touched with tragic illusions that date back to stories like Lancelot and Guinevere and serenendipitous lovers trapped by a chance meeting between passion, reality and honor.From a slow background start the musical wends its way through the audience's emotions like a rollercoaster between comedy, lust, broken dreams and soulful duets. Stripped to their private thoughts, even the men in the audience would have to admit that the show tugged at their hearts and returned them to a chance encounter, a furtive one night stand or a glimpse into "what might have been."
This two time Tony Award®-winning Broadway musical by composer Robert James Waller has evolved from a bestselling book by Pulitzer Prize Winner Marsha Norman to a movie starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood to a Broadway musical is the stuff of housewives fantasies and romantic tragedies with local color, historic flashbacks and comic relief episodes.
The Daily News hails as “one of Broadway’s best scores in the last decade.” It's easy to see why. Although there are no "Oklahoma" catchy tunes that stick in your head they certainly will rap you in their magic while you are there. There is one show stopper at the end though and both I and my theater partner wished we could have given him a standing ovation for it. With his rendition of "When I'm Gone" Charlie (David Hess) goes from mealy mouthed comic episodes to leading man status and that is one song that you wish was just a bit longer.
The performance of Francesca ( Elizabeth Stanley) was of course stellar even though as a granddaughter of immigrant Italians on both sides of the family I found her Italian accent a bit wanting, but her voice could transport you to the outer limits of heaven. The real star of the show though is Robert (Andrew Samonsky). His "The World Inside a Frame" truly creates a picture. Also the chemistry between he and Francesca did not need shirtless scenes to be steamy and electric even from row P in the orchestra.
Norman also has created a pair of comical neighbors, Marge and Charlie (Mary Callanan and David Hess). Marge spies on Francesca and her “hippie” Photographer guest through binoculars and tries to engage her passive husband Charlie jealous speculation; their banter is humorous and finally the results are homespun and touching. Marge also has a huge musical moment along with the Radio Singers in "Get Closer." While part of the stage is "filled" with Francesca and Robert dancing Marge has her own vicarious experience. For the chick flick or chick theater followers Robert with his superior height to Francesca has an enticing way of wrapping his tall body around Francesca.
The great thing about this show is that fantasies and reality both are all part of life and the interjections of all types of music from country to almost operatic and blues with athletic dancing and movement of scenery really made this show come to life in the theater. From housewife to construction worker, business women, traveler or handyman everyone can relate to that one moment that "might have been."
Don't let this be a "might have done" in your life but DO SEE "The Bridges of Madison County playing at the Benedum on 7th St in Pittsburgh through Sunday March 13, 2016. Tickets start at $26.00.
Joanne Quinn-Smith, Award winning internet radio broadcaster, blogger, author and internet radio and TV network editor and publisher. Joanne is the owner and CEO, Creative Energy Officer, of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates, a successful Pittsburgh-based marketing company. Joanne is internationally known as the “Get Your Google On” Gal. But better known as Techno Granny™ to over one million accumulated online listeners worldwide. Joanne has created a revolutionary online NEW MEDIA platform in Internet broadcasting, blogging and other social media participation. JQS is the online publisher of PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com, an online community magazine to disseminate the Positive News for Positive Pittsburghers. PPL Mag is Pittsburgh’s First Internet radio and TV network with syndicated channels and online radio and TV capabilities.