Playing at the Schoenfeld Theatre located at 236 West 45th Street. It runs two hours twenty minutes with one intermission. The musical is an open ended run.
The show premiere at Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. It ran from August 1-18, 2013.
Bartlett Sher is the director. He won a Tony Award in 2008 for “South Pacific”. Bartlett was nominated for a Tony Award for “Golden Boy” (2012), “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” (2009), “Awake & Sing” (2006) and “The Light in the Piazza” (2005).
Jason Robert Brown wrote the lyrics and music. He won a Tony Award for “Parade” (1999) and was nominated for a Tony Award for “Urban Cowboy” (2003).
Marsha Norman wrote the book. In 1983 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “ ‘night, Mother”. She won a Tony Award in 1991 for “The Secret Garden” and was nominated for a Tony Award for “The Color Purple” (2005).
Kelli O”Hara has been nominated for four Tony Awards for “Nice Work If You Can Get It” (2012), “South Pacific” (2008), “The Pajama Game” (2006) and “The Light in the Piazza” (2005).
Robert James Waller wrote the novel. It was the all-time bestselling book in the 20th Century. The novel sold over 12 million copies worldwide.
In 1975 it was made into a movie starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep.
The play takes place four days in 1965 and the following years in Winterset, Iowa.
Francesca (Kelli O’Hara) and her family live on a farm. Her husband Bud (Hunter Foster) is taking their kids Carolyn (Caitlin Kinnunen) and Michael (Derek Klena) to the Illinois State Fair. They are taking their prized cow. Carolyn and Bud are hoping the cow will win a prize. Francesca doesn’t want to go.
A photographer, Robert (Steven Pasquale) stops to ask directions to the last of five bridges he is taking pictures of in Madison County. He is taking the photos for National Geographic.
Francesca takes him there. She invites him back to her house for dinner. One thing leads to another and they become intimate. This is four days of bliss for her. She wants to leave Bud for Robert. In between we find out about the couple and their kids and what happens after the four days. The only other cast members that have speaking roles are their neighbors Marge (Cass Morgan) and Charlie (Michael Martin). Marge spies on Francesca with her binoculars.
You have to listen closely to the songs because they tell a lot about what is going on. “Almost Real”, “When I’m Gone” and “It All fades Away” are the best songs. Although they are not the type of songs you go out singing.
The set is done by Michael Yeargan, it is simple but makes the point as to where you are. There is a tree on the left and chairs. When the show starts the screen in the back of the stage is a field of wheat. It gives you the feeling you are on a farm. An up side down V shape for the top of the house frame, window and door frame conveys a house. Francesca house has a refrigerator, stove and sink with kitchen cabinets. A table is there and to the right side is stairs leading to the upstairs. Her neighbor Marge house is to the left. It has a door, table and chairs. Nothing fancy, but the point comes across it’s a house.
The ensemble, in costume takes props in and out. It could be fences, tables and other things.
Kelli O’ Hara and Steve Pasquale have beautiful voices. Kelli is touching as the unhappy women. She does an amazing job.
I won’t tell you what happens. Go see this wonderful show.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich
Photos by Annazor
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