This summer, live theater returns to Nevada County as Sierra Stages presents the Tony Award®-winning musical “The Bridges of Madison County” playing for six performances only from July 23 through July 31 outdoors on the grounds of The North Star House in Grass Valley.

Christi Colombo and Jonathan Hansard as Francesca and Robert in the Sierra Stages production of the Tony Award-winning musical “The Bridges of Madison County” Photo by Heidi Grass

Based on the best-selling novel by Robert James Waller, “The Bridges of Madison County” tells the story of Iowa housewife Francesca Johnson and her life-changing, four-day whirlwind romance with traveling photographer Robert Kincaid. It’s an unforgettable story of two people caught between decision and desire, as a chance encounter becomes a second chance at so much more. The musical features a book by Marsha Norman (‘Night Mother, The Secret Garden, The Color Purple) and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years, Songs for a New World) that draws upon the rich textures of Americana and classic Broadway.

The six performances of “The Bridges of Madison County” are July 23, 24, 25 (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) and July 29, 30, 31 (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) at 7:30 PM. All tickets are $25 general admission. Seating is on the lawn, and audience members may bring their own blankets and/or folding chair(s). Tickets must be purchased in advance at or by calling Sierra Stages at 530.346.3210.

“We are privileged and excited to present a live theater production after more than a year of lockdown, tiers and uncertainty,” said Peter Mason, Executive Director for Sierra Stages. “Last July, we approached The North Star House and proposed that Sierra Stages mount an outdoor show in the summer of 2021 on the grounds of the historic home designed by architect Julia Morgan. We then spent many months considering various plays and musicals and decided upon ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ for several reasons: First and foremost, the music and lyrics are breathtakingly beautiful, moving, intelligent, and accessible for audiences. Second, the title is instantly recognizable because of the novel and the movie starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. Third, with a relatively small cast of eight actors, the show could, if necessary, be rehearsed and performed in a ‘socially-distanced’ manner. And, finally, the musical furthers our goal to do a wide variety of plays and musicals which are both entertaining and thoughtful.”

“For the musical version of ‘The Bridges of Madison County, playwright Marsha Norman and composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown have taken the basic story line of the novel and created something entirely different – a nuanced and complex exploration of why someone who is firmly grounded in a loving family and supportive community would engage in a spontaneous romance with a stranger she meets by happenstance,” said Mason. “By the end of the evening, the audience understands the conflicting emotions underlying Francesca’s choices and cannot help but be moved by her journey. This is largely because of Marsha Norman’s re-invention and empowering of the character of Francesca and Jason Robert Brown’s emotional and soaring score that explores not only her romance with photographer Robert Kincaid, but also her past life in Italy during World War II, her current life in Iowa circa 1965, and her relationships with her husband, family, and community. With distinct musical styles for each character, Brown’s score expertly captures these relationships while embodying a wide range of American music.” 

“The Bridges of Madison County ” is directed by Sharon Winegar, with music direction by Ken Getz. The cast includes Nevada County actors Amber Busse, Christi Colombo, Micah Cone, Maxwell Freedman, ​Heidi Grass, Jonathan Hansard, Ken Miele, and Sara Noah. The band includes local musicians Ken Getz, Ryan Goodpastor, James May, Nancy McRay, Steve Nicholson, Alexandra Roedder, Zoe Schlussel, David Thorp, and Tony Unger; along with ‘pit’ singers Kathy Chastain, Leah Leddy, Kim Shepard, and Julie Tillinghast. Scenic design is by Scott Gilbert, lighting design is by Erin Beatie and Devin Cameron, costume design is by Paulette Sand-Gilbert, and sound design is by Greg Cameron.

Sierra Stages is a nonprofit community theater based in western Nevada County with a mission to provide quality productions that are affordable and accessible to everyone. Since it began 12 years ago, Sierra Stages has presented more than 40 plays and musicals at various local venues, including the Nevada Theatre, Miners Foundry Cultural Center, The Center for the Arts, Off Center Stage, and, now, The North Star House.

What: “The Bridges of Madison County”
When:           July 23, 24, 25 (Fri, Sat, Sun)
July 29, 30, 31 (Thu, Fri, Sat) Evenings at 7:30 PM
Where:           The North Star House, 12075 Auburn Road, Grass Valley
Information:  |  530-346-3210