Bridges of Madison County the Musical - SYNOPSIS

Broadway Production (2014)
Bridges of Madison County the Musical - SYNOPSIS


Act I

Francesca Johnson, an Italian war bride living in Winterset, Iowa in 1965, has had eighteen years of quiet, largely unfulfilling farm life ("To Build a Home Lyrics"). Her family—stoic husband Bud, rebellious son Michael, and reluctant daughter Carolyn—are journeying to Indianapolis for three days to the national 4-H fair to show Carolyn's prize steer, Stevie ("Home Before You Know It Lyrics"). After the family departs, Francesca is planning a relaxing weekend free from responsibilities. That afternoon, a blue pick-up truck pulls into her driveway carrying Robert Kincaid, a photographer for the National Geographic who has travelled from Washington State to photograph the famous covered bridges of Madison County. Robert is unable to find the seventh covered bridge, the Roseman Bridge, and Francesca agrees to accompany him to the bridge for a short scouting trip ("Temporarily Lost Lyrics"). Once at the Roseman Bridge, Francesca feels something developing between her and Robert ("What Do You Call a Man Like That? Lyrics").

After they return to the Johnson farm, Francesca invites Robert for a glass of tea. Francesca—having discovered that Robert was recently in Naples, her hometown—is eager to see pictures of his trip. Robert does not have the pictures with him, but they discuss everyday life in the quiet of Winterset ("You're Never Alone Lyrics"). After realizing that it is too late for Robert to eat at one of the restaurants in town, Francesca persuades Robert to stay for a supper of homegrown vegetables and one of the recipes that Francesca brought with her from Italy. Francesca's neighbors—Charlie and Marge, an older couple who are firmly entrenched in the farm life of Winterset—see Robert and his truck at Francesca's home and speculate about his being there. Robert—whose hippy presence has caused some commotion in the town—prepares dinner with Francesca. At the farm, Francesca asks about the guitar that Robert has brought into the house, as well as its former owner, Robert's ex-wife, Marian ("Another Life Lyrics"). While cooking, Robert and Francesca share a drink of a long-neglected bottle of brandy. After a dinner where both Robert and Francesca have clearly established a connection, Robert leaves in order to shoot the Roseman Bridge at dawn the next morning. Afterward, both contemplate their shared evening together. While Robert thinks about the dinner with Francesca ("Wondering Lyrics"), Francesca receives a telephone call from Bud, during which she confides that she has opened the brandy that she had been saving—it had been up there long enough.

The next day, while Robert is composing the photograph at the Roseman Bridge, Francesca shops for a new dress ("Look at Me Lyrics"). Realizing that Robert has awoken a feeling within her that she has not felt since she left Italy, she goes to the Roseman Bridge in search of him. At the bridge, Robert explains to her the process of composing a meaningful photograph ("World Inside a Frame Lyrics"). Robert then gives Francesca the copy of the National Geographic featuring the photographs that he took of the post-war reconstruction in Naples. Francesca reveals that her fiancé, Paolo, was killed during the war, and she tearfully describes how her life in Naples corresponds to the photographs that Robert took. Realizing that their connection is more significant than she had initially believed, Francesca again invites Robert to clean up and dine at the farm.

While Robert is cleaning up, Francesca receives a call from Bud: Carolyn's steer has reached the final and they are staying another day at the fair. Francesca is disoriented from her interactions with Robert and Bud. While Bud celebrates Carolyn's victory in the nearest bar and reflects on his relationship with Franny ("Something from a Dream Lyrics"), Francesca bathes and prepares for her dinner with Robert. After Robert waits in the kitchen, Francesca comes downstairs in the pink dress that she bought that day. Finally alone with Robert and the implications of the time that they have shared, Francesca asks Robert if this is what always happens when he wanders into a town—she has bought a new dress and invited him in and everything is about to change for them. Robert asserts that he never steps into a world where people belong to each other and that he never intended for their relationship to go this far. They kiss, but are interrupted by a phone call from Marge. Marge asks Francesca to make plans the next day, but Francesca tells Marge that she already has plans to go to Des Moines. After the call, Robert and Francesca dance in the kitchen to the radio ("Get Closer Lyrics"), and then realize that, while both unknowingly searching for a connection, they have found each other ("Falling into You Lyrics"). After their dance, Francesca leads Robert upstairs to her bedroom.


Act II

At the 4-H national fair, Carolyn worries about Stevie the steer, and Michael fights with Bud ("State Road 21 Lyrics"). Meanwhile, at the farm, Robert is in bed with a still sleeping Francesca ("Who We Are and Who We Want to Be Lyrics"). While preparing for their trip to Des Moines, Francesca explains to Robert how she came to live on an Iowa farm ("Almost Real Lyrics"). Meanwhile, Charlie and Marge—having seen Robert's truck at Francesca's home the whole night before—know that they have spent the night together.

After their day in Des Moines and with Francesca's family due home the next day, Francesca and Robert discuss their plans for the future. He asks her to leave Winterset with him, and she considers the reality of leaving her family behind ("Before and After You Lyrics"/"One Second and a Million Miles Lyrics"). Waking late the next morning, Robert again asks Francesca to come away with him; he is leaving Winterset at six o'clock and she must meet him in town before then. As he sets off for town, she tearfully promises to meet him. Later in the afternoon, Bud, Michael, and Carolyn arrive back at the farm and Francesca welcomes her family home. Bud asks what she has prepared for dinner, and Francesca immediately faces the realities of her life. Preoccupied, she constantly checks her watch while unsuccessfully attempting to say her goodbyes to a frustrated Michael, to a devoted Carolyn, and to a misunderstanding Bud. Francesca is worrying about dinner when Marge shows up, lasagna in hand; she realizes her affair is known to Marge, who has no intention of outing her to Bud. Marge comforts a distraught and uncertain Francesca. While Michael and Carolyn fight in their room, Francesca attempts to tell Bud about her affair and asserts to him that she needs more from their relationship—she cannot go on feeling so alone.

Francesca then breaks up an argument between Bud and Michael. Attempting to ease the tension and with Francesca still in search of Robert, the whole family heads into town. Carolyn asks Francesca about the man staring at them from afar—it is Robert, waiting for Francesca to join him and leave the small Iowa town behind. Francesca—desperate and overcome—runs to Robert, but it is nothing more than a fantasy. Francesca is caught between the love of her life and the love of her family. She decides to stay with her children and her husband. Francesca and Robert, both devastated by the impossibility of their situation, exchange a final look before heading their separate ways.

In the subsequent years, Carolyn marries and has a child, Michael graduates from medical school, and Charlie and Bud both succumb to illness, leaving Francesca and Marge alone ("When I'm Gone Lyrics"). After Bud's funeral, Francesca thanks Marge for her unspoken support throughout the years. Once Francesca is alone in her now empty home, the telephone rings. No one is on the other end, but she clearly wonders if it could be Robert, even so many years later.

Robert, now an older man himself, calls the offices of the National Geographic to inform them that he will no longer be shooting photographs due to an illness of his own. He thanks his secretary for helping him wait for Francesca's call, which never came. Alone in his home, he packs all of his belongings save one letter, and reminisces about his time with Francesca and the following years that they have spent apart ("It All Fades Away Lyrics"). In her own home, Francesca considers calling Robert, but instead looks through the National Geographic featuring the pictures of the Roseman Bridge. She finally takes the long-saved bottle of brandy off the shelf.

Francesca comes to the Roseman Bridge, letter in hand. Inside, she finds the photograph Robert took of her on the bridge, as well as a letter stating that he has died. He tells her that he understands why she made the choice that she did, and that her love for her family was part of his love for her. She tearfully considers the path that brought them together and ultimately separated them, but regrets neither her affair with him nor her choice to stay with her family. In their final moments, Robert and Francesca—appearing as they were when they first fell in love—embrace on the Roseman Bridge ("Always Better Lyrics").

Read more: Bridges of Madison County the Musical Lyrics
Synopsis To Build a Home Bridges of Madison County