'The Bridges of Madison County' to Close Despite Four Tony Nominations

The Broadway musical based on Robert James Waller's bestselling novel is the second casualty since nominations were announced on April 29. Producers are planning a tour to begin in fall 2015.

One of the most anticipated new musicals of the Broadway season, The Bridges of Madison County, will play its final performance on May 18, just three months after its official opening.

The production has been struggling for weeks at the box office, and despite receiving four Tony nominations on Tuesday, it failed to secure a spot in the all-important race for best musical, the one category that consistently has an impact on ticket sales.

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Directed by Bartlett Sher, Bridges was adapted by writer Marsha Norman from Robert James Waller's bestselling 1992 novel about a short-lived but indelible romance between a lonely Iowa housewife and a National Geographic photographer. Clint Eastwood directed a 1995 screen adaptation for Warner Bros. in which he starred opposite Meryl Streep. Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures also has a production stake in the musical.

After previewing from Jan. 17, the show opened at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Feb. 20, earning mixed-to-positive reviews. However, while a number of critics had high praise for the original score by Jason Robert Brown and for the performances of lead actors Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale, many found the production misconceived and the material a poor fit for large-scale musical treatment. 

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One of Broadway's most acclaimed musical theater performers, O'Hara earned her fifth Tony nomination for the show, and many early pundits viewed her as the front-runner of her category to join the winner's circle. How the premature closing notice will impact her chances on awards night remains to be seen. The show is also in the running for Brown's score, as well as for orchestrations and lighting design.

Despite its well-known title, Bridges proved a tough sell from the start on Broadway, failing to build audiences even after switching up its ad campaign. In recent weeks its grosses had been hovering around the $350,000 mark, which is insufficient to sustain a production that reportedly cost $8.5 million.

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The Velocity of Autumn was the first Tony award casualty earlier in the week, when Eric Coble's serio-comedy about an elderly artist who refuses to move from her Brooklyn brownstone into a retirement facility announced a May 4 closing date, just two weeks after opening. That production did not snag a nomination in the main category of best play, receiving a single nod for lead actress Estelle Parsons.

When it closes, The Bridges of Madison County will have played 137 performances on Broadway. Producers have announced a national tour to begin in fall 2015, perhaps hoping that the show will play better in the heartland.