Based on the book and the 1995 film, The Bridges Of Madison is a slow but stunning musical by Jason Robert Brown. With beautiful intricate soaring melodies, this show if filled with heart and romance.I really didn’t know what to expect with this show as I haven’t seen the film or read the book. I was very pleasantly surprised! The story follows Francesca (Originally from Italy) and her love story with a photographer whilst her family is away… The story is a slow burner but it builds up to you feeling very emotional!
The Menier Chocolate Factory is a small Off-West End venue but the set design by Jon Bausor makes it seem like your in a big west end house. With stunning projection design by Tal Rosner taking you to different locations in an instant. It is a very cinematic and fluid piece. It is complimented by two revolves that whisk set pieces on and off which looks very impressive when you remember your in a house with less than 200 seats! Direction by Trevor Nunn is very filmic and realistic, it has a warm familiar feel. There is really nice use of the very sides of the stage for “split screen” use. Again the projections tell us where that character is.
Jenna Russell plays Francesca and boy is she a talent! I felt so lucky to witness her performance, I loved her delicate portrayal of Francesca and she created a layered emotional character. She gives the emotional weight that you really need to follow this journey. Her love interest (Robert) is played by Edward Baker-Duly and he is believable and they had good chemistry. I think vocally he struggled at times, I just needed at tad more sometimes! The rest of the cast are brilliant and have very strong vocals.
The orchestra sounded brilliant with a string and guitar heavy sound. The score has a lot of stunning moments and it has similar sounds to the Light In The Piazza which I adore. I really do hope this does transfer to another theatre! It is a hidden gem of a show but it might not be for everyone! Trevor Nunn describes the theatre as having a certain “magic” and I really do totally agree. There is something really special in the Menier because I have seen transfers of two other productions by them: Funny Girl and Fiddler On The Roof.
Go see this 4 star musical running at the Menier until 14th September. (Fingers crossed for a transfer) Have you seen or listened to The Bridges of Madison County? Feel free to comment below! Thanks for reading