Encore Michigan

‘Bridges of Madison County’ opens at The Dio April 7

Sponsored Content March 31, 2017

PINCKNEY, Mich.–The Dio – Dining & Entertainment is presenting The Bridges of Madison County, with an opening night of April 7 and running through May 21. The show is directed by Dio Artistic Director Steve DeBruyne and music directed by Brian E. Buckner.

Based on the best-selling novel, and developed by the Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning creative team of Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five YearsParadeSongs for a New World) and Marsha Norman, The Bridges of Madison County captures the lyrical expanse of America’s heartland along with the yearning entangled in the eternal question” “What if…?” Winner of the 2014 Tony Award for Best Score and Orchestrations, this sweeping romance about the roads we travel, the doors we open and the bridges we dare to cross will leave audiences breathless.

Marlene Inman

Marlene Inman

Francesca Johnson (played by Marlene Inman), a beautiful, mature Italian woman who married an American soldier to flee war-ravaged Italy, looks forward to a rare four days alone on her Iowa farm when her family heads to the 1965 State Fair. When National Geographic photographer, Robert Kincaid (Jon McHatton), pulls into her driveway seeking directions, though, what happens in those four days alters the course of Francesca’s life.

For artistic director Steve DeBruyne, Bridges came a sudden surprise. The show wasn’t actually in the theatre’s initial season plans, but he received email from Music Theater International on the day the rights were released for regional productions. “And we applied right away” DeBruyne says. He and partner Matt Tomich had seen the touring version when it passed through East Lansing, and they knew they wanted to do it. “The Wharton Center was packed, and the show was very moving,” says DeBruyne.

The set is designed and built by Tomich, who faced some unique challenges in creating the set for Bridges. “You’d think the hardest part might be the Roseman Bridge, the bridge that Robert is photographing for The National Geographic in the show, but it was actually Francesca’s home,” says DeBruyne. Tomich, who designs all of the Dio sets, designed this one so that the entire set folds away to hide the house which allows the bridge to move into place. With the help of the 14-person cast, the scenes move smoothly from one setting to the next. This is a pretty neat affair as the Dio stage is small with no wings.

Marlene Inman and Jon McHatton

Marlene Inman and Jon McHatton

For Inman, the role is one she has coveted for years. “From the time I was first exposed to this show, I was drawn to Francesca because of her complexity and her humanity” says Inman, who has a long history of playing strong character roles – such as the title role in The Drowsy Chaperone, which she performed at The Dio last season. “Francesca is multi-layered, fallible and therefore, highly relatable. She struggles and is conflicted, but ultimately harbors no regret.” The universal story, says Inman, is of a woman who, in her middle age, has lost sight of herself in the milieu of daily life and work, “and through this experience she finds herself again.” Inman is trained in classical voice, and has performed with the Michigan Opera Theatre, Arbor Opera Theatre as well as numerous professional regional musical theater companies. “The Tony Award winning score is complex and challenging, and feels like a good fit for my instrument. It’s very exciting to bring together my classical training and my passion for musical theater.”

Jon McHatton is making his debut at The Dio. McHatton has been in a touring production of Camelot, as well as playing leads in Grease, Oklahoma and Urinetown, among other shows. “I was drawn to the role of Robert for many reasons. First, the score is absolutely gorgeous and Jason Robert Brown is by far my favorite music to sing, “ says McHatton. “The character Robert is a lot like myself. He’s a photographer, I’m an actor so we both know what it’s like to travel places and never really have a chance to settle down or be with someone.”

Other featured actors include Anne Bauman, Molly Cunningham, (director) Steve DeBruyne, James Fischer, Andrew Gorney, Madison Merlanti, Dan Morrison, Luciana Piazza, Derek Ridge, Julianne Roberts, Carrie Jay Sayer and Jared Schneider

All tickets at The Dio include dinner, dessert and non-alcoholic beverages.

Click here for show and ticket info.