By Katherine Karlson
Love and its loss is a tale that never grows old, no matter its time or place. Often tragic, it can also have an uplifting aspect, which SRO Productions III is bringing to the Schorr Family Firehouse Stage in the musical The Bridges of Madison County.
Based on the best-selling 1992 novel by Robert James Waller, the musical, which arrived on Broadway in 2014, owes its book to Marsha Norman and its music and lyrics to Jason Robert Brown.
Director Scott Fisher did some research and found that the author had reached out to the playwright, because he wanted a musical adaptation.
“It’s an epic love story that lends itself to some beautiful duets,” he added.
“I’ve always seen it as melancholy because it’s about two people who meet at the wrong time in their lives — the idea of what could have been,” Fisher said.
Christina Taylor portrays Francesca, the Italian war bride married to a solid Iowa farmer, Bud Johnson (Joe Hoffman).
“I see her as a heroine because she gave up her dreams, her passion, her art. She isn’t resentful of this choice, but she just feels lonely and lost without them,” Taylor said.
When she meets photographer Robert Kincaid, played by Gene Czebiniak, it is his artistic process that appeals to her. “That was the interesting way to create their initial attraction to each other,” Fisher said. “It started to click.”
“They also share a sense of humor,” he added.
Taylor thinks her husband, Bud, has an inkling of his wife’s growing interest in another man.
“Bud is a different stock from Robert. She admires him, but he doesn’t awaken these feelings in her. He represents duty, loyalty, tradition,” she said.
“He (Bud) knows he can’t give her more, but she is his dream, his good fortune to find and marry, and he loves her the way he does — practical versus passionate,” Taylor added.
While Francesca eventually chooses not to go away with Robert and the enriched emotional life he offers, she still has the love they shared that lasts the rest of her life.
“Her last song, Always Love, shows that she carries this love throughout her life. It’s a moving piece,” Taylor said.
Fisher thinks the audience will tear up (as he did in rehearsal) when they see what the talented cast brings to the performance. Local supporting actors include Hannah Gdovin as the Johnsons’ daughter, Carolyn, and Logan Everson as their son, Michael. A six-piece string ensemble will provide live music that will enhance the theatrical experience, Fisher added.
IF YOU GO: SRO Productions III will present The Bridges of Madison County on Nov. 4-6 and 11-13 at the Goodwill Theatre’s Schorr Family Firehouse Stage, 46 Willow St., Johnson City. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 ($23 for students/seniors). Purchase tickets online at www.sroproductionsonline.com or send an email to TIXX@sroproductionsonline.com.