BWW Review: The Long Island Premiere of THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY at Theatre Three
Kicking off what is sure to be a dazzling 48th season, Theatre Three offers the Long Island premiere of The Bridges Of Madison County. The Tony winner runs at the Port Jefferson venue through October 28th excellently directed by Theatre Three's Artistic Director Jeffrey Sanzel boasting a top notch cast. The best piece of advice I could give? Be prepared for a roller coaster of emotions.
The heart tugging tale follows Francesca as she grapples with the state of her current low-key country life. She's a married Italian woman with two teen kids living in Iowa and initially she believes she is happy. However, when she meets a traveling photographer, she feels a new excitement for life which causes her to question her choices.
Theatre Three vet TracyLynn Connor superbly portrays Francesca - Kelli O'Hara's role in the Broadway production - with a steadfast demeanor yet feminine touch powerfully taking the audience on Francesca's emotional struggle. Favorites among the Jason Robert Brown score include Ms. Connor's renditions of "What Do You Call A Man" and "Almost Real" as well as a stunning performance of "Falling Into You" with Brian Gill who portrays Robert, the aforementioned mysterious photographer. Laughs are primarily provided by Theatre Three staple Steve McCoy and Amy Wodon Huben as nosy neighbors Charlie and Marge. The kids, Carolyn and Michael, are portrayed by Ella Watts and Matthew Rafanelli. Ms. Watts in particular is splendid as the attitude ridden daughter bringing a lot of Long Island sass to the role. And rounding out the cast is Dennis Creighton as Francesca's husband Bud and Marissa Girgus who portrays multiple roles including Francesca's sister and a festival singer. Kudos to Ms. Girgus for well differentiating each role.
On Mr. Sanzel's clever creative team, Randall Parson's set appears easily movable for seamless scene changes. A typical country kitchen is a highlight as is the bridge scenes. This is enhanced handsomely by Robert W. Henderson's terrific lighting design and Chakira Doherty's stunning costumes add to the country ambiance. And, of course, it is always fantastic to see a live band who practically sits in the audience. Headed up by Music Director Jeffrey Hoffman, the orchestra performs the beautiful score flawlessly.
And so, The Bridges Of Madison County is a stellar way to kick off the season for Theatre Three. An outstanding cast and entrancing story make for a great night of theatre.
The Long Island premiere of The Bridges Of Madison County is presented by Theatre Three of Port Jefferson, Long Island, through October 28th. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.
Music & Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, Book by Marsha Norman, Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, Musical Direction by Jeffrey Hoffman, Scenic Design by Randall Parsons, Costume Design by Chakira Doherty, Lighting Design by Robert W. Henderson, Properties by Linda May, Stage Management by Melissa Troxler & Peter Casdia
Photo provided by Theatre Three