This Week on Stage: Kelli O'Hara builds some 'Bridges,' 'Bronx Bombers' is outta there

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Image Credit: Joan Marcus

Bronx Bombers has just announced a closing date of March 2, proving yet again that sports fans and Broadway do not make good bedfellows. There’s already a whisper in the air that the soon-to-be-vacant Circle in the Square might see Audra McDonald in a production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill a staple of regional theaters about Billie Holiday (not to be confused with last fall’s Off Broadway show Lady Day). That would complicate the Tony race for  Best Actress in a Musical, which is already shaping up as a showdown between Sutton Foster (Violet), Idina Menzel (If/Then), Jessie Mueller (Beautiful), Michelle Williams (Cabaret), and the leading lady of the week, Kelli O’Hara, who just debuted to bright notices for her lovelorn Iowa housewife in the musical version of The Bridges of Madison County. Let the diva bloodbath begin! Bridges was reviewed by EW this week as well as three other new productions (click on the links below for the full reviews):

The Bridges of Madison County  Kelli O’Hara reunites with her Far From Heaven costar Steven Pasquale in the long-awaited musical of Robert James Waller’s best-selling weepie, also a hit film for Clint Eastwood that netted Meryl Streep one of her 3,000 Oscar nominations. Senior editor Thom Geier was  smitten with O’Hara as the Iowa housewife who falls for Pasquale’s visiting photographer. “When O’Hara lets her guard down and opens herself up to the possibility of romance, and when her magnificent soprano belts out Brown’s swooping melodies, even a small space can seem as wide and expansive as an Iowa cornfield,” he writes, adding praise for Jason Robert Brown’s music and lyrics: “a lush and deeply romantic score, filled with rich and melodic duets that show off its leads’ terrific voices.” EW grade: B+

Love and Information  New York Theatre Workshop’s presentation of Caryl Churchill’s 57-scene, multi-cast series of (very short) vignettes about the love and knowledge in the information age has landed Off Broadway after a heralded run in London. Thom Geier checked out the ambitious evening by the 75-year old playwright, calling it “a technical marvel,” but found the experience overall to be “more exhausting than exhilarating, like two hours of channel surfing.” EW grade: B

My Mother Has 4 Noses  The very small pool of solo musicals is joined by this new production conceived by and starring  alt-folk musician Jonatha Brooke, depicting the roller-coaster of caring for her mother in the throes of dementia. “A girlish 50-year-old with a forthright and friendly stage manner, Brooke draws a sharp but loving portrait of her mother,” says Geier. “It’s a voice remarkably well suited to this material.” EW grade: B+

Transport  A rare original musical from Off Broadway’s Irish Repertory Theatre, Transport is based on a harrowing real-life sea tale by Schindler’s List author Thomas Kenneally and composed by Black 47’s Larry Kirwan. Despite the pedigree, this one comes up all wet. In my review, I state that the production is “a deeply underimagined bid to be the Les Miz of the Potato Famine years…the slackly conceived musical stifles the talents of its best singers.” EW grade: C–

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