In Moving Final-Performance Speech, Kelli O'Hara Assures Bridges Is "By No Means Going Into The Ground"

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19 May 2014

Kelli O'Hara on opening night
Kelli O'Hara on opening night
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

After 137 performances the cast of the new musical The Bridges of Madison County took their final bow May 18 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.

The production finished its run following four Tony nominations: two for composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown (for Best Orchestrations and Best Score), one for Kelli O'Hara as Best Leading Actress in a Musical and one for Best Lighting Design for Donald Holder.

As the audience shouted praise for the performers at the closing performance, five-time Tony nominee O'Hara calmly quieted them as Brown and Marsha Norman, who penned the book, joined the cast on stage.

In a quietly moving speech available online, O'Hara firmly asserted that though the new musical was closing on Broadway, it was not the end of the road for Bridges.

"On behalf of our director Bartlett Sher, we want to say something — we want to say thank you for coming to help us send this out into the world, because this is by no means going into the ground," O'Hara explained to the rapt patrons.

"For all those of you who don't know how it is to be in theatre or what it is to make a show, we work really hard together to do the emotional part, and it's so heavy for us; and every person in this cast, this crew, the men and the women in the front and the back, all on the stage, the house staff, everybody has done this; and I know I can speak for them all when I say it's been a labor of love. This is something that we've believed in from the very beginning."

O'Hara went on to explain the intimate journey the cast had taken with Bridges and explained her own five-year affair with the piece and her collaboration with creators Brown and Norman.

As she came to the close of her brief and moving words, O'Hara confessed, "I thought today wasn't going to go over very well, and then I realized that I could do this show because I felt the exact same way every single night of performing it as I felt tonight...which is absolute and complete gratitude; and I will never feel any other way, and I have never worked with more sincere, uncynical, beautifully talented people in my entire life and I don't know that I will again."

Her thanks to the audience were drowned out by the surge of applause as the patrons took to their feet.

The Bridges of Madison County is a new musical that centers on a brief, four-day love affair between a National Geographic photographer and an Italian-American housewife in 1965 Iowa. Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep starred in the 1995 film adaptation.

In addition to O'Hara and her leading man Steven Pasquale (Reasons to Be Pretty, Far From Heaven, "Rescue Me") the original cast and crew of the Broadway production follow: Tony nominee Hunter Foster (Hands on a Hardbody, Urinetown, Little Shop of Horrors), Derek Klena (Wicked), Caitlin Kinnunen (Spring Awakening), Cass Morgan (Memphis), Michael X. Martin (Catch Me If You Can), Whitney Bashor, Jennifer Allen, Ephie Aardema, Katie Klaus, Luke Marinkovich, Aaron Ramey, Dan Sharkey, Tim Wright, Jessica Vosk, Charlie Franklin and Kevin Kern.

The creative team included Michael Yeargan (scenic design), Donald Holder (lighting design), Catherine Zuber (costume design), Jon Weston (sound design), Deborah Hecht (dialect coach) and Thomas Murray (music director).

The musical was produced by Jeffrey Richards, Stacey Mindich, and Jerry Frankel. They were joined by Gutterman Chernoff, Hunter Arnold, Ken Davenport, Carl Daikeler, Scott M. Delman, Aaron Priest, Red Mountain Theatre Company, Independent Presenters Network, Libby Adler Mages/Mari Stuart, Caiola Productions, Remmel Dickinson, David Lancaster, Bellanca Smigel Rutter, Mark S. Golub & David S. Golub, Will Trice, with Warner Bros Theatre Ventures and The Shubert Organization.

For more information visit bridgesofmadisoncountymusical.com.