Music is at the Heart of WaterTower Theatre's ‘The Bridges of Madison County: In Concert'

The Addison theater company presents a concert version of the musical for one weekend only, September 7 -11.

WaterTower Theatre The Bridges of Madison County In Concert Leads
WaterTower Theatre

Romance is in the air at WaterTower Theatre. The Addison theater company is presenting a concert version of The Bridges of Madison County, the Tony Award-winning musical by Jason Robert Brown and Marsha Norman based on Robert James Waller’s best-selling romance novel. The Bridges of Madison County: In Concert wraps up WaterTower Theatre’s 2021-2022 season, running September 7-11.

WaterTower Theatre announced The Bridges of Madison County as a part of its 2019-2020 season. Although the pandemic derailed its June 2020 run, the theater company remained committed to producing the show.

“We lost more than a handful of shows during the pandemic that we were just not able to produce but this is one I wanted to make sure we were able to do,” said Shane Peterman, the theater company’s Producing Artistic Director and the show’s director.

The Bridges of Madison County: In Concert follows a summer run of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder that enjoyed several sold-out performances. Peterman recently added two staff members and the theater’s 2022-2023 season is set to begin in November with Jesus Christ Superstar.

“I feel like we’re back,” Peterman said. “The audiences are really back and enjoying theater and that’s really good to see. I think we’re really poised for a really great build-back phase now.”

This concert version keeps intact the story of the musical: Francesca Johnson is an Italian war bride who married an American soldier to escape a homeland ravaged by World War II. Left alone on her Iowa farm while her family goes to the 1965 State Fair, Francesca befriends Robert Kincaid, a National Geographic photographer looking for directions to the Roseman Covered Bridge. Their romantic connection leads Francesca to reexamine her life.

The musical won the 2014 Tony Award for Best Score and Orchestrations. By presenting this show as a concert, this production focuses on the musical’s award-winning elements. The concert features a live orchestra, the cast and ten additional singers. After considering talent from New York City, Peterman realized all the talent he needed was at home in North Texas.

“It’s going to be a huge sound,” Peterman said. “I’m really glad I’m able to put money in the people playing those amazing, beautiful instruments under Vonda Bowling’s beautiful music direction and this beautiful all completely 100% local cast.”

Peterman has a personal attachment to the show. He and his wife saw the show on Broadway after experiencing a miscarriage. The beauty of the show left them speechless.

“I don’t think we talked for 30-45 minutes,” Peterman said. “It’s just a beautiful piece of musical theater. It spoke to me at a very profound time when I needed it.”

Laura Lites plays Francesca, an operatic role reflecting the character’s Italian background.

“For me personally, this is the first time I’ve ever had a role of this weight before. I’ve never really carried a show in my career,” Lites said. “This is new territory for me.”

Lites spent the pandemic participating in streaming performances and enjoying extra time with her family. Earlier this year, she performed in Lyric Stage’s concert versions of Ragtime and Cabaret.

“It’s been nice to dip my toes back in the water,” Lites said.

During Ragtime’s curtain call, Lites began to cry as she heard the audience’s applause.

“I just missed that feeling,” Lites said. “The audience is that last piece when you’re performing.”

WaterTower Theatre Bridges of Madison County Deaton and Lites
WaterTower Theatre
Christopher J. Deaton and Laura Lites have worked together on many other shows, including at Lyric Stage.

Because of her recent experience at Lyric Stage, Lites is familiar with the quick rehearsal process of preparing for a concert version of a musical. She has another advantage: Christopher J. Deaton is playing the role of Robert Kincaid.

“Chris and I have known each other and worked with each other for years but we’ve never really gotten to do something like this before,” Lites said. “One of the benefits of being local is that there is already trust and a friendship and with such a fast process, I think that will help us get to where we want to go so much more quickly.”

Through the music, the audience experiences the emotional arc of the characters.

“You’re talking about really being able to enhance these stories through this beautiful score that really highlights and helps you understand the differences of their backgrounds and their character and who they are,” Peterman said.

“The music is just gorgeous. It’s so sweeping. It transforms everything in this show. You really get to feel the love between Robert and Francesca with the score,” Lites said. “It’s beautiful.”

Learn more: WaterTower Theatre

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