“The Bridges of Madison County” to Close on May 18

Based on the 1992 best-selling novel by Robert James Waller, The Bridges of Madison County is a musical with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (Parade, Songs for a New World), a book by Marsha Norman (‘night, Mother), and directed by Bartlett Sher.  Though the show was a highly anticipated transfer from the Williamstown Theatre Festival where it ran in summer 2013, it will unfortunately close on May 18, 2014 after consistently moderate sales.  The musical opened at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on February 20, 2014 after 37 preview performances, and it will have run 100 regular performances by the time it shutters its doors.

The musical was not helped by its schedule, hbridges of madison county musical kelli o'hara steven pasqualeaving opened in the midst of a very cold winter.  Furthermore, it received mixed reviews from critics, despite considerable appreciation for the performances of its two stars.  Kelli O’Hara, who has received Tony Award nominations for her roles in The Light in the Piazza, The Pajama Game, South Pacific, and Nice Work if You Can Get It, starred alongside Steven Pasquale, who is known for his television roles on Rescue Me and Six Feet UnderThe Bridges of Madison County received four Tony Award nominations in 2014, including those for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Kelli O’Hara), Best Original Score (Jason Robert Brown), Best Orchestrations (Jason Robert Brown), and Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Donald Holder).  Despite this appreciation from the theatre community, it did not manage to attract enough ticket-buyers to keep it afloat.

Financially, the show’s highest weekly gross was $476,374, but it generally grossed around $350,000 per week.  This is hardly enough to sustain a musical, even though its capitalization was a modest $8.5 million.  In general, it only amassed enough sales to reach 30 to 40 percent of its gross potential in a given week.  Since early March, it has been on a steady decline, and this past week it grossed $64,998 less than the week before.

The novel is one of the bestselling books of the 20th century, having sold 50 million copies worldwide.  It is the story of an Italianbridges of madison county kelli o'hara steven pasquale bed scene woman named Francesca who lives in Madison County, Iowa in the 1960s.  The story takes off when she starts an affair with a National Geographic photographer focused on covered bridges in the area, and it follows the couple for several years afterward.  In addition to this musical adaptation, the novel was made into a film in 1995 directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Eastwood and Meryl Streep.

This is a very competitive season for new musicals.  In addition to the four that were nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical – A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Aladdin, After Midnight, and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical – this season also saw the premiere of Bullets over Broadway, If/Then, and Rocky the Musical, as well as the Broadway premiere of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Violet (though these two shows have had Off-Broadway runs in the past).  In addition to the slew of musical revivals and plays both new and revived, it was particularly difficult for a new musical to find its audience, even one with such name recognition as The Bridges of Madison County.

New CD To Benefit Broadway Impact

Jeremy Jordan

Jeremy Jordan

A new recording titled Here For You – Ballads For Broadway Impact, featuring the music of Jonathan Reid Gealt, will be released on April 30. The proceeds of the album will benefit Broadway Impact, an organization made up of theater people who support marriage equality.

The CD will feature the talents of many Broadway performers, including Jeremy Jordan (Newsies, TV’s Smash), Kelli O’Hara (Nice Work If You Can Get It), Adrienne Warren (Bring It On), Rachel Potter (Evita), Katie Thompson (Big Fish), and Caissie Levy (Ghost the Musical), as well as The Voice finalist Loren Allred.

Here For You – Ballads for Broadway Impact will be launched with a special concert being held at The Cutting Room on April 29 at 10pm. Tickets are $20 if purchased ahead of time, or $25 at the door. Get tickets by visiting www.thecuttingroomnyc.com or calling 212-691-1900.

Broadway Musical Carousel To Be Presented in Concert on PBS

Kelli O'Hara

Kelli O’Hara

The classic Rodgers & Hammerstein Broadway musical Carousel is being staged at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall from February 27 to March 2 in a concert version that will feature the world-famous New York Philharmonic. Fortunately for those who aren’t able to see the concert staging in person, PBS has announced it will broadcast the event as a part of its “Live from Lincoln Center” series.

Carousel will feature Tony Award-nominated Broadway actress Kelli O’Hara (Nice Work If You Can Get It, South Pacific) as mill worker Julie Jordan and Nathan Gunn as troubled carnival barker Billy Bigelow. The cast of Carousel will also feature Broadway actor Alexander Gemignani (Sweeney Todd) and Stephanie Blythe (The Ring Cycle, Carmen). John Rando will direct the event, Rob Fisher will serve as conductor of the orchestra, and Warren Carlyle will provide choreography.

Carousel boasts some of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s most beautiful and memorable songs, including “If I Loved You,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over”. Tickets to the Carousel concert are $65 and can be purchased at www.nyphil.org or by phone (212-875-5656).