Dallas Theater Review: ‘The Bridges Of Madison County’

Review by Monique Thompson

Based on the best-selling novel by Robert James Waller, THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY tells the story of Iowa housewife Francesca Johnson and her life-changing, four-day whirlwind romance with traveling photographer Robert Kincaid. It’s an unforgettable story of two people caught between decision and desire, as a chance encounter becomes a second chance at so much more.

The Tony Award winning musical, The Bridges of Madison County, makes a stop at Music Hall Fair Park in Dallas as part of their 2015-2016 Dallas Summer Musicals season. This classic love story is led by Elizabeth Stanley and Andrew Samonsky as the lead characters Francesca Johnson & Robert Kincaid. For those that may have never saw the film or read the novel – Yes I’m guilty – The Bridges of Madison County is a romantic story about Francesca (Frannie) and Robert’s 4-day whirlwind affair while Francesca’s husband and children are away at the state fair. Since I may be one of the only few that is new to this story, I won’t go into much detail as from what I hear, this musical adaptation is a good portrayal of the novel and my only drawback is below.

When attending a musical, music is for certain a given, however, is here a such thing as too much music in a musical….Absolutely and I think that’s what happens here. The isn’t much speaking dialogue between to characters, lead and supporting, so for probably about 90-95% of the dialogue is shared in music. Something else that is certain is how beautiful the cast’s voices are. Each musical score is crisp and rich, however, understanding all of the lyrics is a little difficult. When speaking dialogue is very limited, being able to fully understand the lyrics in the music is very important. The story of Frannie and Roberts expedited love affair is beautiful indeed, but Frannie’s thick Italian accent combined with her deep operatic voice makes it very difficult to understand where the story is going or what she’s trying to say. No denying though Elizabeth has incredible vocal ability and the chemistry between the two leads carry the musical from beginning to end.

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