PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: The Bridges of Madison County — Caught Between a Hard Rock and a Place

By Harry Haun
21 Feb 2014

Georgia Stitt and Jason Roobert Brown
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Martin's other half is played by the inestimable Cass Morgan, who arrived in New York as one of two dinette waitresses in Pump Boys and Dinettes Off-Broadway. Interestingly, her Bridges role was played on film by that other dinette, Debra Monk.

"The character's name was Madge in the movie, and I'm Marge," Morgan pointed out. "I don't know why the name change was made, but it's really the same person. She's very loving, and I enjoy that people don't really see her. People think they know who she is — she's a nosy neighbor — and, in truth, that's not who she is at all."

Caitlin Kinnunen from Spring Awakening and Derek Klena from Dogfight are the bickering offspring of our heroine who give her a break by trooping off with their father to the state fair. Kinnunen has recovered from the laryngitis that struck in mid-matinee last week and prevented her from finishing the show. Happily, she was present and accounted for during the duel premieres. "I think they were both great," she trilled gleefully. "Last night was different because we had two shows during the day. Everyone was tired but we pushed through, and I thought we did a great job last night. The energy was spectacular, and everyone was on their game."

Klena concurred. "Both nights were really exciting. This was a new crowd, and there were enthusiastic people in the audience. Last night felt more like the opening because it was more the opening-night structure. Everybody got dressed up and lookin' good, and there were lots of famous faces in the audience and a good crowd."

He was particularly proud about the domestic life that was collectively created on stage.

"Bart has been really amazing during this whole process about really trying to form the family and making sure the family's on the right path with the right amount of struggles and the right amount of warm, loving moments. I felt we got to that place and we're so comfortable together and we like each other so much. It's a lot of fun up there on stage. It feels like it's new every night, which is really special."

O'Hara's understudy, Whitney Bashor, has a rather bizarre track to play in the show — in the first act, she's Pasquale's ex-wife, and in the second act, she's O'Hara's sister who still lives in Naples, Italy. Only one of her two songs made it through the previews, but it's a beaut: The ex-wife's poignantly haunting "Another Life."

The up-number assigned to the sister was not so lucky. "'He Forgave Me' was her very sassy opinion of what decision Kelli should make — whether she should go and experience this great love or stay for her family? It's a fun number about her husband forgiving her for having affairs so she's telling Kelli hers will as well."

Midway through the evening, Sher hoisted a glass of champagne and thanked the producers, the cast and the authors. "It has been a very long, beautiful, wonderful journey with The Bridges of Madison County. I'm incredibly glad that we're here."