Kelli O'Hara Returns to Williamstown in 2013

Bridges of Madison County Debuts in August

By: - Jan 07, 2013


Much as we abhor the empty chair politics of Clint Eastwood he has a great ear for music.

The jazz sound track for “The Bridges of Madison County,” a film which starred Eastwood and Meryl Streep, was awesome.

It features such legendary singers as Johnny Hartman and Dinah Washington.

Apparently, artistic director, Jenny Gersten, of  the Williamstown Theatre Festival also has a fine ear and knack for transforming classic films into musicals.

Last summer, WTF workshopped “Far From Heaven” which is transferring to Off Broadway this spring. It starred Kelli O’Hara who will also be featured in the role played by Streep in the film.

Some found “Madison County” a bit trite and sweet. You know, the roving photographer, and the lonely farm woman of a certain age. The same may be said of “Far from Heaven.”

But what these projects lack in true grit is more than compensated by audience appeal.

In its WTF debut it was clear there was work to be done on “Far From Heaven” but great promise and enormous potential. As is, it made the 2012 top ten list of the Berkshire Eagle.

It will be a treat to see O’Hara again and welcome news that WTF is becoming her summer hangout. It will be up to Gersten to pair her with a steamy hunk. Hmm, Hugh Jackman can sing, kindah.

The news was leaked today in a New York Times feature about shows struggling to get to Broadway. Oddly, it didn’t mention “Pippin” which opened this week to smash reviews at A.R.T. and has announced that it hits Broadway in April.

Our Boston correspondent Mark Favermann loved “Pippin” as have most other critics so far. Of course the NY media has elephant hide and alligator breathe.

The Times reports that “Another show from Mr. Brown, “The Bridges of Madison County,” will be staged in August at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts, according to its artistic director, Jenny Gersten. Bartlett Sher, who won a Tony directing “South Pacific” in 2008, will reunite with that show’s leading actress, Kelli O’Hara, who will play the central character in “Bridges” — an Iowa housewife who falls in love with a photographer. (Meryl Streep played the role in the 1995 film.)

“Ms. Gersten and Mr. Sher said there were no plans to take the show to Broadway at this point. But given the star power involved, a successful outing in Williamstown could lead to a New York run. That was the route for “Far From Heaven,” which Williamstown produced (and Ms. O’Hara starred in) last summer and which opens Off Broadway this spring.”

Reacting to the Times coverage Gersten stated “As reported in the New York Times this morning, we will be presenting a world premiere musical of The Bridges of Madison County on the Main Stage as part of the 2013 Williamstown Theatre Festival season.  Based on the best-selling novel by Robert James Waller, the show features a book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Marsha Norman and score by Tony Award-winner Jason Robert Brown.  Tony Award-winner Bartlett Sher will direct Kelli O'Hara as she returns to the Festival stage following her transcendent performance in 2012's Far From Heaven. The season announcement is forthcoming in a few weeks, and full details will be available then.” 

Asked a follow up question about Far From Heaven Gersten responded by e mail "Far From Heaven opens at Playwrights Horizons in late May or June. The Guggenheim Museum will be doing one of its "Works & Process" events on May 3."