It’s that time of year again. Tony Time! It’s the time of year where Broadway is buzzing with anticipation, hope and pride. It’s also the time of year I try my hardest to squeeze in the shows I’d like to see before the awards. I have to admit “The Bridges of Madison County” was not on my “to see” list. Like many shows adapted to Broadway, I didn’t know the story. I hadn’t read the book or watched the movie either. However, one day I came across the uber talented, Tony-nominated, Kelli O’Hara singing “Almost Real” on YouTube. She took my breath away. I knew by that one single performance I had to see the show. It’s funny how social media can do that. So, when my friend Kim asked if I wanted to go I said, “Yes!”
I had worked a long day and my allergies were driving my nuts, but I was excited to see this show and on a week night. It was a full house. My seat from the second row allowed me the opportunity to get ... well ... let’s say an intimate look at the actors. People next to me giggled, cried and sighed when Steven Pasquale would (as Susan Blackwell stated during an interview), open his mouth and let that, “rainbow of sound come out.” The mix of amazing vocals combined with an unbuttoned shirt is something I could watch and listen to every day. It’s like an ice cream sundae with whipped cream!As for Kelli O’Hara. Kelli is like the hot fudge and cherry that drips over the ice cream. I have no words because she is just that perfect. Anyway, now that we are all craving ice cream ... back to the show. The lights dim, the orchestra plays ... and we leave bustling New York City for a quiet farming community in Iowa. Two plus hours later the people sitting next to me turn to me and ask something many people are asking, “Why is this show closing again?” “I don’t know,” I tell them. I shake me head in disbelief. I look them each in the eye and say, “It’s a work of art.”
I know all Broadway and Off-Broadway shows are pieces of art. However, for me, this was a work of art. From the beautifully choreographed changes of scenery, to the lighting, the lyrics and orchestration. It was perfection. It has everything a show should have ... especially the most important element. That element is the ability to connect with the audience. I could see myself in nearly every single character. Most important though are the themes that are so beautifully woven into the fabric of the story. The first is the idea of living a different life ... the choices we make. What if we hadn’t opened that door. What if I hadn’t have said, “yes.” What if I’d said, “no.” The second: community. Community is talked about in the songs“You’re Never Alone” and “To Build A Life.” In New York City you’re never alone, but at the same time you can feel alone. That’s where community comes in. Community is important. Whether it’s the community of friends you make or the community in which you live. It’s what makes living in such a hard place like New York sustainable. You try to build a life. You try to build a home. Your home and life are all based on choices you’ve made, chances you took and opportunities you passed on. It’s also about living in the moment and being part of something ... being connected.
I think that’s what makes Broadway so special. The connection. The connection made between actors. The connection made between the actors and the audience.The connection amongst those watching a show ... together. Broadway is about community too though. It’s a giving community, a hard working community, a community that comes together every year to recognize and celebrate their achievements. The Tony Awards. I don’t know why “The Bridges of Madison County” wasn’t nominated for Best Musical. I do know that the cast and creative team doesn’t need an award to know that this show has touched the hearts of many who have seen it. I know it has mine.