Trevor Nunn is directing The Bridges of Madison County in London

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qolbinau
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RippedMan said: "Agreed! Great score but I don’t think Sher knee what he was doing"

One thing he may have got out of it are incredible performances though. I guess it's always hard to tell how much the director shaped the performances, but this is basically Kelli's best work in my opinion*, with other notable performances from Steve P and Whitney Bashor. Even Hunter F did a good job at being so unromantic and plain it was easy to see how the story could progress. I'd be surprised if any cast will ever match the aesthetic quality, intimacy and tension of this original cast (although I guess everyone always says the originals can never be topped).

*I really believe it's her NEXT TO NORMAL, GREY GARDENS, GYPSY etc. I wish she had received greater recognition for the role. 

"It’s the fractured quality in [Bernadette Peters'] singing voice and line readings that puts across the character as someone for whom resentment is sliding into madness." - NYtimes on Follies (2011).
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..

"It’s the fractured quality in [Bernadette Peters'] singing voice and line readings that puts across the character as someone for whom resentment is sliding into madness." - NYtimes on Follies (2011).
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AEA AGMA SM said: "The comment meant keeping the casting of the leads in their late 30s, not the time period of the show."

Well, then, as Gilda Radner-playing-Emily Latella used to say, "Never mind."

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qolbinau said: "...I guess it's always hard to tell how much the director shaped the performances, but this is basically Kelli's best work in my opinion...."

I only know Miss O'Hara's work from TV, the MetHD and recordings, but I wholeheartedly agree. Although I will happily defend Elizabeth Stanley in the part, O'Hara is simply astonishing on the OBCR.

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agreed! Hard to say. I loved the performances but hated the staging.
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Caught this. Jason Robert Brown in the audience. The size of the theatre is much more appropriate for the show but just as people criticised the original production for feeling a little overblown the staging of this production also strangely feels overdone. There are two turntables, siding doors, set pieces moving in and out. Doors spinning around to reveal set pieces. It’s all going clickaty clack the whole time, sometimes through song and dialogue too. It’s just a bitch much.

In terms of the show itself, it still all ‘works’. It’s not really a different change in interpretation, besides that the two leads are much older. I suppose in some ways it makes even more sense because Fran would be even less satisfied with her life and stale marriage as time goes on, but the sizzle that was between the two leads In New York - that sexual tension oozing from the stage - is now little more than a tepid hot breath.

The show is long (2 hours 45 min) with painfully slow tempos at time, and sadly while serviceable (except for cracking of the lead male) they are no O’Hara/Steve P. So the score does not soar as it once did.

As for the highlights, I must say I was particularly moved towards the end of the second act. My memory is hazy from the original production but Jenna Russel really captured the conflict of her relationship, pathos of losing it - and the double act of a frail dying Robert singing “it all fades away” and then a heartbreaking and teary “Always Better” really really did it for me. Maybe the fact that the actors genuinely feel older rather than just young playing old like the OBC makes it seem realer.
"It’s the fractured quality in [Bernadette Peters'] singing voice and line readings that puts across the character as someone for whom resentment is sliding into madness." - NYtimes on Follies (2011).
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Any major changes to the score? Did he cut "State Road 21?"

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I did not notice changes to the score, except I noticed that Fran sings a “nothing’s gonna happen” line in ‘Wondering’. Is that new?

State Road 21 is not cut. I don’t really remember much about it from the original and don’t listen to it much except wondering why it existed. However, in this production I must admit I didn’t mind it - it was kind of positioned as an act 2 ‘get the energy back’ opener with audience participation hand clapping and campy vocal rifts. After a very long slow first act it was ok to try and get some energy back in that theatre.
"It’s the fractured quality in [Bernadette Peters'] singing voice and line readings that puts across the character as someone for whom resentment is sliding into madness." - NYtimes on Follies (2011).
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How does Jenna sound singing this legit score?
“I knew who I was this morning, but I've changed a few times since then.”
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(Cut because everything I wrote here, I now find I also wrote back in May.)

Updated On: 7/20/19 at 09:02 PM
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QueenAlice said: "How does Jenna sound singing this legit score?"

Disappointing in my opinion (caught the show Saturday night as well). It sounded like she was struggling to sing the score. I've seen her in other productions and she was always a standout but yesterday it seemed to me that both leads were struggling vocally including the already mentioned crack. There was no ease in their singing and no strength in the places where Kelli/Steve excelled. It's made all the more obvious once members of the supporting cast/ensemble start singing. 

Also pretty much agree with all of qolbinau's points, particularly about the staging.

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I am a fan of Jenna and this score but even I am not dying to listen to a cast recording of it again should they ever make one. I personally think after seeing Jenna the score sounds like it would work with a strong non-legit voice but Jenna is not exactly a powerhouse (right now, at least). She seemed a little pitchy too at first and some of those high notes seemed challenging. Besides getting over an initial shock of hearing a thin and slow ‘To Build a Home’ though it’s ‘fine’. You get used to it. This production to me highlights how truly special for me just stumbling on this show on a whim in Feb 2014 was before it disappeared in a second. It’s going to be very very hard to come close to matching that original cast, who were perfection. This production only manages to capture a small part of the magic that was there in the original production.
"It’s the fractured quality in [Bernadette Peters'] singing voice and line readings that puts across the character as someone for whom resentment is sliding into madness." - NYtimes on Follies (2011).
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I saw the first preview (which was actually their final dress rehearsal) on July 13. Nunn's direction doesn't really add anything new to the show although this does feel much smaller and more intimate compared to the original staging (and it's not just because the Chocolate Factory is tiny). I think this could transfer to the West End and do well, but this likely won't make it to New York. It just doesn't add anything new to the show.

I will say, this is not a beautifully sung Bridges. It sort of reminded me of Follies at the National in that the singing was serviceable, but the acting blew me away. I can't remember any names, but the lead male struggled with the score and cracked several times. The cast was strong across the board. "Another Life" was a bit disappointing and sung with little power or presence. The kids were great. The standout of the show was Marge. I always felt Marge was sort of a throw-away character before but in this production she was really the heart of the show in many ways. 

Jenna Russell - I really loved her in this. In general, she struggles with the score and doesn't even try to go for the money notes. This took a while to get used to, especially in comparison to O'Hara and Stanley who sang the score with ease. That said, I thought she gave one of the best performances I've seen this year. She acted the hell out of the role and fully break my heart by the end. Her choices in the last 30 minutes of the show alone were perfection. 

The design and tech are incredibly ambitious for the space. There were a few rough moments and you could tell everyone was still getting used to the tech and set (at one point the kitchen wouldn't come on and the kitchen table chair kept falling off the table). 

The book and score seem intact. State Road 21 (which I have already disliked) really works in this production. It does a great job getting the energy back in the theatre and the lead vocalist is really great. 

I think the biggest change is that the only people who are onstage are the ones in the scene whereas the original staging had lots of folks coming on and off for different reasons. It could be because the Chocolate Factory is so small, but I loved the focus just being on the story itself. 

If anyone has specific questions, I can answer them. I really enjoyed this one and if you're in London definitely check it out. 

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Booked a seat for 10 September and hope the staging is better than the one on Broadway. The set was so minimal I felt it did a disservice to the story.
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I have a question re: Marge. In the original production she was a throw away but here she has at least two important moments: one in when she sung “get closer”, which was so hilarious and camp. In the original production I thought this was actually just coming out of the radio but here it was a camp funny solo. What happened originally? I can’t remember. Second, when she could tell that Jenna was very upset re: cheating and said she needed to talk to her husband, she was so understanding and kind of like “I know what you did I will support you”. It also was a bit of an arc from what started as a nosey character. Again, I don’t remember this in the original production. What happened?

Also, in general how did the ending compare to the original? In the original I don’t remember Kelli being as devastated as Jenna. But I only ever saw the show once originally and over 5 years has past so my memory is hazy on this point. Jenna really was quite devastating at the end. I would consider seeing the show again just for her, I just wish I could see an understudy lead male.
"It’s the fractured quality in [Bernadette Peters'] singing voice and line readings that puts across the character as someone for whom resentment is sliding into madness." - NYtimes on Follies (2011).
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The two beats you mention of Marge’s arc both most assuredly happened in the Bway production. As I recall, she was seen listening to the radio on her window sill as the song starts.  She begins to sing along until at a certain point, her live voice drowns out the radio and she solos for the rest.

The moment when she changes from a meddlesome neighbor to sympathetic friend was a lovely pivot in the whole arc of the Bway production for me. The new way we look at the townsfolk by the end is a key aspect to what makes BOMC so special a piece. Cutting the townsfolk as some have suggested seems sacrilegious to me and overlooks a key part of the story the show wants to tell.

Updated On: 7/22/19 at 06:04 PM
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qolbinau said: "I have a question re: Marge. In the original production she was a throw away but here she has at least two important moments: one in when she sung “get closer”, which was so hilarious and camp. In the original production I thought this was actually just coming out of the radio but here it was a camp funny solo. What happened originally? I can’t remember. Second, when she could tell that Jenna was very upset re: cheating and said she needed to talk to her husband, she was so understanding and kind of like “I know what you did I will support you”. It also was a bit of an arc from what started as a nosey character. Again, I don’t remember this in the original production. What happened?

Also, in general how did the ending compare to the original? In the original I don’t remember Kelli being as devastated as Jenna. But I only ever saw the show once originally and over 5 years has past so my memory is hazy on this point. Jenna really was quite devastating at the end. I would consider seeing the show again just for her, I just wish I could see an understudy lead male.
"

Kelli’s ending wasn’t overdone. She didn’t play it with outward hysterics. She played it with a pensive sadness that was chilling. 

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In the London production, Marge is textually the same as the original production, but Gillian Kirkpatrick completely takes this role to a new level. She really steals the show and becomes the heart of the show in many ways. On a casting level, she appears more as Russell's peer and best friend. They appear to be the same age. She never really comes across as a meddlesome neighbor. Kirkpatrick also has maybe the best vocals in this production. 

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Re: Orchestra. If I recall correctly, there is a 10-piece orchestra for this production so it isn't the reduced orchestra we have typically seen at the Chocolate Factory. The orchestra and score really soar in this production. 

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Do we think this will go to the West End
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I highly doubt it - it's getting killed by the critics. I'm a little sad/annoyed that with everyone involved they couldn't pull it off. Very disappointing, especially after we've had such good productions of American musicals here recently. 

"It’s the fractured quality in [Bernadette Peters'] singing voice and line readings that puts across the character as someone for whom resentment is sliding into madness." - NYtimes on Follies (2011).
Updated On: 7/25/19 at 05:38 AM
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I saw this tonight. Full disclosure, I saw the Bway production 3x. I was optimistic that the incredible score would continue to make this a magical show for me.

It is one of the most tedious and disappointing shows in memory. It's so miscast that it's infuriating. Neither lead can hit the required notes. Well sometimes they hit them but it doesn't sound good. Those ahs in "It All Fades Away", those ahs that Steven Pasquale made sound like a heart was bursting open, sounded like a cat dying. And all the soaring top notes that Francesca gets, Russell barely ekes out, and barely audibly.

Seriously WHO cast this? 

To top it off, the direction is awful. The first act is so tedious - every song - EVERY song - is at least one beat slower than it originally was. And without charismatic leads who have chemistry with each other, the slow pace of the first act is beyond tedious since there's no simmering romance to watch. It was painful. I'm honestly so angry that whoever was in charge didn't care to make it better. It's a disservice to this score how it's being treated. 

When you're absolutely itching for Marge and even forking BUD to have their scenes (they're both great but part of it is the comparison factor) so the miscast leads can leave the stage, you know something is wrong. When STATE ROAD 21 is the best song in the show??? You know people royally screwed up. And it was! Guys! State Road 21 was THE BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE NIGHT! My head is exploding.

 

Updated On: 7/27/19 at 06:46 PM
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OUCH!

Where did it all go so wrong...

Nunn's Fiddler was the best thing I saw last year, glad I didn't rush out and get tickets for this.

I'll wait til they drop on Todays Tix x

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This sounds dreadful.
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Impossible2 I also thought Nunn's Fiddler at the Menier was wonderful. I guess this was just not the show for him. I'll be curious to hear your thoughts if you do see it (I'm sure tickets will drop soon -- I was there on a Saturday night and there were almost whole rows empty, which is always a shame to see no matter how poorly I think of the production). 

 

OH someone asked earlier in the thread about changes to the score. I only remember one right now - that in "To Build a Home", they changed it from 'for 18 years' to 'for 20 years', I guess because Jenna's Francesca is markedly older now, but 20 is the most they could change realistically without changing the meter. And then in 'Almost Real', the actress who comes on as Chiara said the Chiara lines as Jenna sang them. Like Jenna would sing "Chiara said 'Cesca you must be prepared'" and the other actress would speak 'Cesca you must be prepared' along with her. It was interesting but I'm not sure I liked it because there are a lot of those moments in the song and it started getting annoying.

Updated On: 7/29/19 at 09:08 AM