Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Bridges of Madison County the musical Manila: A Review

Note: Just for the record, this is an unsolicited review. The local production has no influence on the author of the blog. My tickets were purchased.

I first heard about the musical when one of the actors, Mig Ayesa, was interviewed in a segment on local television. I've seen the movie but that was long ago and I haven't read the book yet. When I found out that Joanna Ampil is playing Francesca, I figured this may be good since she was also in Miss Saigon and I've watched her recently in an original Pinoy musical Chuva Choo Choo.

The story is about a love story between a housewife and a photographer of a known publication on assignment in Madison County, Iowa. Because of her personal issues and drawn affection between two wandering souls that resulted in an affair.

If you are not familiar with the book and the movie, don't worry. There are no spoilers in this review. The set appears simple before the act started. It appears like artworks of different sizes that looks like a puzzle showing landscape of Iowa. What makes the background unique is part of the artworks are also part of the props. One frame is part of Francesca's kitchen. One frame is where the bed was kept.

For the other props like chairs and ladders, they were being put to place by the cast especially the ensemble that only sits in the background when they don't have a part. The ladders were also used as arches or doors depending on the scene. Blocking of the props is also hard because the ensemble doubles as props custodians for the scenes.

The songs captures the Iowa setting of country music and slow rock. But there are some song that combines local Iowa tunes to opera that is why the role of Francesca and Robert Kincaid is so unique among the cast.

Mig Ayesa and Joanna Ampil created their own version that will not remind you of Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. They gave a different attack on their roles since it is a musical. I realized why they are fit for the roles because their voices fit the songs and they also have specific physical appearances needed.

Unlike any musical, it didn't have much dance choreography which is good. Otherwise, you won't be concentrating on the songs which is essential for the story. It also has some dialogues that were not sung which is also necessary. It's been a while since I had a new Broadway song favorite and Before and After/One Second and A Million Miles became my new favorite because it captures the point of the relationship between Robert and Francesca.

What I like about this story is how liberating it was for the characters even though it may appear taboo since Francesca is married and Robert is a total stranger. It is still taboo even in the modern age but if you can see Francesca's situation, it is like she is in a prison in her own life and Robert was the only liberation she needed. This is something universal since not all marriages lasts forever.

Relationships really don't last forever. It is also part of the cycle. Even to marriages. Most couples are still together because of obligation to family and most because of financial need. But the love and affection is already gone. Which is why there are advantages of divorce law.

I was able to watch this production because a family friend was able to purchase seats but was unable to watch because of changes of work schedule. The seats I got were really expensive and I cannot even afford the lowest rates. Productions like these is for specific audiences who can afford. But if you can afford it, this is the best production you shouldn't miss.

For more reviews about musical productions, follow this blog and like L.E.N.S. blogs on Facebook. Thanks to Picket Fences Creatives for the tickets.

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