Bridges Tony Nominee Jason Robert Brown Gets "Very Personal" Within Madison County

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15 May 2014

Jason Robert Brown
Jason Robert Brown
Photo by Monica Simoes

Jason Robert Brown, the Tony Award-winning Parade songwriter, took his final trip to Madison County May 14, conducting his 2014 Tony-nominated score of The Bridges of Madison County for a final time. After all, he admitted that the work is extremely "personal."

"What I aspire to do, and what I try the hardest to do is write stuff that's very personal in its way," Brown told at the April 30 Tony Award nominees press junket. "I figure I can only say things the way I say them, so I'm trying to do something that is kind of anti-generic. In that respect, to be able to put something of my own out there — with a very personal stamp — it's a little scary, and it also doesn't always feel entirely endemic to this particular environment, so when the community responds and says, 'We love this work. We understand what you're doing. We appreciate it,' I love that part. Obviously, it's very gratifying."

Despite Brown's Tony nomination for Best Original Score — as well as three others for Best Actress (Kelli O'Hara), Best Lighting Design (Donald Holder) and Best Orchestrations (Brown) — it was announced May 1 that the new musical, based on the romantic novel by Robert James Waller, would close May 18.

Since then, Brown has taken to the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre to conduct the orchestra and played his final performance May 14, where an abundance of fans and friends were in attendance. They greeted O'Hara and Steven Pasquale with rapturous applause, stopped the show numerous times in its second act (following "One Second and a Million Miles," arguably the most powerful love duet of the Broadway season, O'Hara's "Almost Real" and Pasquale's "It All Fades Away"), and stood for Brown and the cast at curtain call. Brown was spotted wiping what looked like tears from his face throughout the evening.

"It is scary to write — period — for me, but once you get past the idea that it's scary to write, I still can only be who I am," Brown admitted. "As a writer, my job, to me, is to expose myself — to really sort of dig in and find out who I am and then put it on the page. That's the case if it's The Bridges of Madison County or if it's 13 or Honeymoon in Vegas or if it's Parade. The point is to bring myself through these characters and really try to understand them by understanding myself."


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