[NEohioPAL] Review of "THe Bridges of Madison County" at Lakeland Civic Theatre

Bob Abelman via NEohioPAL neohiopal at lists.neohiopal.org
Sun Feb 12 13:11:01 PST 2017

Rickety ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ bolstered by 

Lakeland Civic Theatre’s talent, vision 

Bob Abelman

Cleveland Jewish News, The News Herald, The Morning Journal

Member, International Association of Theatre Critics

Artistic Director Martin Friedman has an affinity for underdog musicals.  

He’s staged “Anyone Can Whistle,” which was a commercial flop, a critical disaster and, for composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, a devastating professional failure when produced on Broadway in 1964.  

He’s offered David Mamet’s snarky, profanely cynical “November,” which lasted only 6 months on Broadway in 2008 and is rarely produced elsewhere.  

And currently on stage at Lakeland Civic Theatre is the novel-to-screen-to-stage musical “The Bridges of Madison County,” which opened in 2014 and closed not long after at Broadway’s Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. 

“The Bridges of Madison County’s” overt sentimentality and schmaltz reads well on the page where it earned “Best Seller” status as a 1992 romantic novel by Robert James Waller.  And it was a box office success when imbued with Hollywood star-power (Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood) and sweeping cinematography in 1995.  

It had limited appeal as Marsha Norman’s live stage adaptation, where its Tony Awards for Best Original Score and Best Orchestrations by Jason Robert Brown could not salvage its rather sparse narrative, its often contrived literary dialogue, and the aforementioned schmaltz.

But in addition to his attraction to underdogs, Friedman also has an affinity for finding the heart in everything he stages, particularly the underdogs.  Which is why his Northeast Ohio premiere production of “The Bridges of Madison County” works so well.

For more of this review, go to www.clevelandjewishnews.com/columnists/.
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