Kelli O'Hara & Steven Pasquale

Kelli O’Hara & Steven Pasquale


(click photos to enlarge)


By Brian Scott Lipton



Robert James Waller’s romance “The Bridges of Madison County” remains one of the best-selling novels of all time. Its enduring popularity, however, is just one reason Tony Award winners Jason Robert Brown and Marsha Norman have collaborated on a new musical adaptation of the book, which begins performances on January 17 at Broadway’s Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, with an official opening set for February 20.

Brown, who says he’s long wanted to write his own “La Traviata,” and Norman have expanded the scope of the novel, which focuses on Francesca Johnson (played by four-time Tony Award nominee Kelli O’Hara), an Italian immigrant now living with her husband Bud (Hunter Foster) and children Caroline (Caitlin Kinnunen) and Michael (Derek Klena) on an Iowa farm in 1965.  Her world is turned upside by the arrival of “National Geographic” photographer Robert Kincaid (Steven Pasquale), with whom she falls madly in love.

Among the many changes from the book, audiences will learn more about Francesca’s life back in Italy, and will meet Robert’s ex-wife Marian (Whitney Bashor), who is now a folk singer in Seattle. In addition, the roles of Bud and Francesca’s friends, Marge (Cass Morgan) and Charlie (Michael X. Martin) have been enlarged.

The production reunites O’Hara, for whom the score was written, with Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher, who guided her Broadway turns in “The Light in the Piazza” and “South Pacific.”  Sher simply calls his star “the best. Meanwhile, O’Hara admits that she is in the perfect place in her life (having recently given birth to her second child) to portray Francesca.

Moreover, she and Pasquale have a long personal and professional history. They have been friends for 15 years, appeared together in the out-of-town production of “The Light in the Piazza,” and co-starred in the Off-Broadway musical “Far From Heaven.”

In short, a visit to “Madison County” seems like a must-see destination for musical theater lovers.

*Photos/Video by Sandi Durell

“Photographed at New 42nd Street Studiios”