Bridges of Madison County
Music & Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Philadelphia Theater Company, February 8 to March 3 2019
Director: Mark Martino. Music director: Amanda Morton.
Sets: Paul dePoo III. Lighting: Elizabeth Mak.
Costumes: Mark Mariani. Sound: David Thomas.
Photography: Elizabeth Mak
The real heart and star of the show is the small Iowa town, captured by an exquisite and rustic set design by Paul Tate dePoo III and enchanting lighting by Elizabeth Mak. … the stage is picturesque and the narrative is a beautiful snapshot of two soulmates at a crossroads. — Philadelphia Weekly
Lighting by Elizabeth Mak is subtle and perfectly matched to each scene from sunrise to sunset.
— Broadway World
The Bridges of Madison County is a tricky musical to pull off in 2019. If you enter the room with any cynicism about the nature of love and without understanding for its vagaries and complexities, then the nuanced nature of Francesca’s struggle will completely elude you. The world that the lighting unfolds in three days is about love that two lonely and forgotten people find in each other, when they both thought that that kind of love had already passed them by. The arc that we’re tracing is them being truly seen by someone else for the first time. And yet that love is equal to a love for community and family.
As such the world of Winterset Iowa has to be beautiful and reflect its people. We really have to fall in love a little bit with Francesca’s Iowa, with her husband, children, and neighbours, because that is also part of the Francesca that Robert falls in love with. We have to understand why Francesca chooses to stay with her family, and we can’t do that until we fall in love with the world she’s created for herself.
The set that was created was very simple, with some flying windows, the outline of a roof, and a stairs to indicate the farmhouse. Even though the main characters never physically leave Iowa, much of the story we hear is through flashbacks, whether they are of Francesca’s life in WWII in Napoli, Robert’s past with his ex, or of Francesca’s understanding of her family. Lighting did much of the legwork to transport us in time and space, and with no movers or color-changing cyc lights or a translucent sky, this was truly a musical that was lit old-school.