In The Field: The Bridges of Madison County

Kate Baldwin as Francesca, Aaron Lazar as Robert Kincade in The Bridges of Madison County

The first time I heard of The Bridges of Madison County, it was the early-to-mid 1990s.

The book was published in 1992. Not sure where I got my copy from, but I remember reading it in my South Philly rowhouse.

The general story is about “true love”, ones soul mate, with an emphasis on lost love

I was young and romantic and couldn’t win over the (or so I thought) girl of my dreams.

So, the book spoke to me. I sighed often as Francesca, a bored Iowa housewife, and Robert, a Nat Geo photographer passing through town on assignment, meet and express their love and desire for each other. But, life, be they as it may, they – spoiler – do not end up together.

Casablanca meets The Country, sort of.

Now I’m a bit more cynical and think it’s all smarmy hogwash.

A film version, staring Clint East Wood and Meryl Streep, came out in ’96. I don’t know if I ever actually saw it, but Streep earned a 1996 Academy Award nomination as Best Actress.

Kate Baldwin as Francesca

The book/movie then was adapted into a very successful on-and-off-Broadway musical. It recently had a run at the Axelrod Theater down in Brick.

You may remember, back in November, I photographed A Bronx Tale there. This version of Bridges starred two Broadway pros, Tony-Nominated Kate Baldwin and Aaron Lazar, and I was asked to shoot the final dress rehearsal before the first show.

After the shoot, I did a quick edit of about 25 photos, and sent them over to the art director the next day for pre-Opening Night PR. Got a little busy with baseball, so didn’t get the chance to deliver more until a couple of days later. In the meantime, the AD emailed me and said “Can you send me a few more ‘romantic’ ones.”

I knew which ones he meant – the bedroom scenes!

Of course, it’s the stage so it was all quite tame. But I still had to laugh to myself when he phrased it that way.

More from the show, which also featured a strong supporting cast.

While I’m shooting, I’m still enthralled at how these small productions and crews can create so many different looks and “locations” on stage with just a few moments of props or a change of attire.

When Robert is shoot in the bridge and Francesca up top of this post, you can almost hear the babbling brook underneath it, the birds chirping and Robert’s shutter click.

The funeral scene (above) is sparse but direct, with a bit of a noir aspect. It’s cool to see how they do this on stage.

Of course, with live theater, anything can happen. During this run-through, I think Kate actually cut her thumb in the one kitchen scene. She was off stage for what seemed longer than normal and when she came back, her thumb was bandaged up. It seemed to become perhaps a running gag because at the the very close of the performance, Kate and Aaron touched thumbs. Heh.

This version was directed by Hunter Foster, who starred in the Broadway version of TBMD, and art directed by Andrew DePrisco. The music was done by an orchestra that long the side rows, stage left. I wish I had gotten good shots of them but they were in the dark for much of the performance.

 

The show seemed to have gotten some really good reviews, and I’ve been  happy to see my photos picked up and used in a number of publications and on flyers to promote the show.

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2022

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