Q&A With BRIDGES Director Johnny Hebda

With Chase Ramsey, Utah Rep Artistic Director Johnny Hebda directs THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY. Along with executive producing each of the company’s shows, Johnny has directed Utah Rep’s productions of “Bare,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “Carrie,” “Heathers” and “Carousel.”

How did seeing THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY impact you?

BRIDGES was one of the most moving and powerful theater experiences I have ever had. The gorgeous score, the passion from the actors and the message of the show left an impact that I will never forget.

You saw the final performance of the Broadway production, luckily enough seated directly behind BRIDGES Composer Jason Robert Brown and Book Writer Marsha Norman. What was that like?

It was a surreal experience to watch them as they viewed BRIDGES’ final Broadway production. Their energy and talents radiated.

You were able to overhear some of their conversation — about how if BRIDGES had been nominated for a Tony Best Musical the producers would have been convinced to contribute more money to increase the show’s marketing efforts?

It’s amazing how awards can affect producers’ willingness to invest and take risks. When BRIDGES failed to receive the Best Musical Tony nomination, though it did end up winning Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Orchestrations, producers felt they should pull funding because they felt the future of the show and its ability to reach profitability seemed uncertain. I personally saw all the shows nominated that year and felt BRIDGES was certainly cheated from receiving the Best Musical nomination.

Why a

Photos taken by Johnny Hebda at the Stage Door after seeing THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY on Broadway.

re you excited to stage this production in Utah?

I think theatergoers will be amazed by the talent we have in the show and will be moved by the beautiful score. I believe our Utah audiences especially will relate to the themes explored.

Ultimately BRIDGES is a show about love for one’s family and the sacrifices we all make for those we love. We all have challenges and temptations and times that we are less than happy with our lives. It’s easy to want to give up, walk away or give into certain wants and desires. Francesca ultimately chooses her family and children over a fleeting passion. In the final lines of the show Francesca shares this: “I could have not been where my children turn for answers, and never seen what they’ve become now th

at they’re grown, but what I did is that I loved. And love is always better.”