The wonderful story of the Tony Award winning Bridges of Madison County (the Musical) is now playing at the Music Theatre of Connecticut in Norwalk. The musical is based on the best selling 1992 book of the same name by Robert James Walter, later made into a movie starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep (1995) and was adapted as a musical and produced on Broadway where it received 4 Tony nominations (winning 2) and won 2 Drama Desk awards. This heartfelt drama with an excellent score is now making a brief run in Norwalk, and this is a must see show.
If you are not familiar with the story, it involves a lonely Iowa housewife, Francesca who was a war bride from Naples Italy. Her Italian fiance was killed in World War 2 and she marries an American G.I. who brings her back to the United States where they live on a secluded Iowa farm with their two children. Secretly she yearns for her life back in Italy and her lost love. When her husband and two children go off to the State Fair for a few days, she finds herself alone. By chance, a photographer Robert Kincaid, from the National Geographic who is doing a photo essay on the local covered bridges stops by looking for driving directions. This new stranger who is a world traveler awakens something in her long slumbering soul. His camera and his photographs serve as a metaphor for the wide world outside the flat Iowa farmland where she feels trapped and alone.
The two find themselves in a few short days falling in love, and Francesca feels alive for the first time in years. But they are two ships passing in the night, and though the pull of this new love is strong, Francesca cannot leave her family for her new love. The characters and the audience in this emotional story are left with the lingering thoughts of what might have been.
The play stars Juliet Lambert Pratt as Francesca who delivers a truly Broadway quality performance. Her voice was emotional and moving as it filled the theater. All eyes in the audience were fixed on her truly passionate performance. Her experience on Broadway (Les Miserables) as well as National Tours and Regional appearances served her well as she shines as Francesca, and brings her to life in front of your eyes. A truly exceptional actor and first rate talent. We hope to see her again in a future performance.
Sean Hayden takes on the demanding role as Robert Kincaid, the photographer. He gives a wonderful performance and tackles the extensive musical score. He has appeared in Lincoln Center and off Broadway as well. The rest of the cast Frank Mastrone (Charlie) and his wife Kirsti Carnahan (Marge) bring some comic relief to the tension in the drama. Greg Roderick plays Bud the husband of Francesca and the rest of the cast of Matt Grosso (Michael), Megan O’Callahan (Carolyn) and Mia Scarpa (Marian) help round out the story of these two lovers .
Excellent direction provided by Kevin Connors, who also is the co-founder of the theater and Artistic Director. His directorial resume is long and very impressive. All members of this cast are professional actors and members of Actors Equity Association.
This wonderful show runs through November 19th with performances at Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 4 pm and 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $30-55 which is a bargain for the fantastic quality show you will experience. Reservations are suggested. The theater is small and very intimate and the audience is really pulled into the action of the performance. Please do not miss it!
Music Theatre of Connecticut
509 Westport Avenue Norwalk Ct
tel. 203.454.3883 web http://www.musictheatreofct.com
Review by Frank Wallace and Irene Young Wallace of I On the Valley
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