It’s no surprise that Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale, stars of The Bridges of Madison County (running at Broadway’s Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre through May 18), lit up when asked about their go-to karaoke song and junior high jams. But that’s not where the retro fun ends.
Beyond Joni, Joel, and Journey, see what got them nostalgic from back in the day, then learn what about Bridges makes them happy to go to work eight times a week.
O’Hara and Pasquale, who have stepped into the stage shoes of Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood, understand the inevitable comparisons by fans of Robert James Waller’s 1992 novel and the Eastwood-directed ’95 film. Still, says Pasquale, there’s plenty about this production that will keep loyalists riveted. “Although [the book and film are] iconic,” he says, “this is probably the best version of that source material. It takes the central premise and really builds on it. It is in no way a direct copy.” O’Hara adds, “It’s getting into these characters the way the book or the movie didn’t necessarily, seeing their backstory.”
O’Hara, a five-time Tony nominee since snagging another nod for playing Bridges‘ Francesca, also complimented the work of composer Jason Robert Brown (Urban Cowboy), saying, “It’s one of the most accessible scores I’ve heard in my entire career of working with new songs. I heard them for the first time and knew something powerful was happening. That doesn’t always happen. Very rarely, in fact.”
In particularly, she thinks “One Second and a Million Miles,” the show’s showstopping voix a deux, brings something to the Great White Way she hasn’t seen in a while. “A lot of the revivals I’ve done don’t have duets,” she admits. “This has two really beautiful duets, and ‘Million Miles’ is one of the most rich and story-telling. It’s incredibly filled with what our position is in the show right at that moment, and it’s incredibly satisfying to sing.”
Bottom line, says Pasquale, the show is “an insanely relatable piece of theater. Anyone that believes in love should see it — whether it’s about being in a marriage or whether it’s about being alone in the world and finding something special… it takes many forms, and this show really explores [love] in a valiant way.”