It is not very often a critically acclaimed Broadway play opens its national tour in Des Moines. The anticipation for the upcoming launch of “The Bridges of Madison County” are heightened as the play is set in Iowa’s own Madison County.
Andrew Samonsky, who plays Robert Kincaid, said opening “Bridges” in Iowa will be a special moment for the cast when the curtain goes up on Nov. 28 at the Des Moines Civic Center.
“All of us are really excited to see how Iowa will respond to it,” the actor said. “It’s just a special experience to bring a show to a place that is so part of Iowa.”
“The Bridges of Madison County: The Broadway Musical” shares the story of Kincaid, a traveling photojournalist who comes to Madison County, Iowa, to shoot the historical and picturesque covered bridges. While on assignment Kincaid has a chance meeting with Francesca Johnson — a farm wife who moved to Iowa from Italy after the war. As they talk and get to know one another, Johnson (Elizabeth Stanley) and Kincaid find themselves caught up in a four-day whirlwind romance with tough decisions to make.
“(I am) really excited to be a part of this,” said Samonsky during a phone interview. “There are not a lot of musicals this deep with subject matter so honest. This is a really heartfelt love story.”
The “Bridges” story is a familiar one for readers. Set in Iowa in the 1960s, the love affair of Robert and Francesca first captured audiences in the 1992 best-selling book by Robert James Waller, who was born in Rockford, Iowa. The novel was later turned into a feature film starring Clint Eastwood as Robert Kincaid and Meryl Streep as Francesca. Samonsky said audience members should expect more than copycat performances from the film.
“I thought Clint Eastwood was fantastic in the movie,” Samonsky said. “But there will be difference because all I know is my own truth and experience and what I bring to this role. I am just excited to get a chance to do my version of Robert Kincaid.”
According to Samonsky, one of the biggest changes for audience and lovers of the film will be the addition of the music and lyrics that led to four Tony Award nominations and two wins for Best Original Score and Best Orchestrations in 2014.
“The opening (song) is a sweeping, gorgeous moment in the show. Then they just come one after the other,” he said. “It is a beautiful show. People will be surprised with what a musical can really be. It is something to experience for sure.”
Samonsky, Stanley and the rest of the cast will take the stage 7:30 p.m. Nov. 28, Dec. 1-4, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Nov. 29, and 2 p.m. Dec. 5. Tickets for the latest installment of the Willis Broadway series are available starting at $35 each at DesMoinesPerformingArts.org, the Civic Center Ticket office or by calling 800-745-3000.
“To have a show like this, I believe you get a few great shows in your career and this is going to be one of them for me,” Samonsky said.