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Arts Beat: 'Bridges' at the Kavinoky, plus art at Hallwalls and more

To help set the mood for a production of "The Bridges of Madison County," Kavinoky Theatre director Loraine O'Donnell and the show's romantic leads, Steve Copps and Michelle Marie Benzin, journeyed to the great state of Iowa to caucus with those now-famous covered bridges. We can see how it all worked out starting Jan. 10, when the musical adaptation of Robert James Waller's 1992 best-seller opens on the Kavinoky stage for a four-week run.

Benzin portrays Francesca, an Italian war bride who barely realizes she has lost herself in the life of a Midwestern farm wife. Copps plays Robert Kincaid, a photographer who thinks he has come to Iowa to take pictures of bridges for National Geographic before he realizes his true mission is to fall, however briefly, in love.

Write Marsha Norman builds in a few extra characters as she adapts Waller's story to go with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, making this more than a two-person show, but really, it is absolutely a show about two people, aptly scheduled on the road to Valentine's Day. Seen either as a star-crossed last chance at romance or as a cautionary tale about neglecting those you love, handkerchiefs (or soft tissues) should be kept at hand.

"Bridges" runs Thursdays through Sundays, through Feb. 2 in the Kavinoky Theatre at D'Youville College (320 Porter Ave.) with parking available on the street or behind the building in the campus lot. Tickets are $45; $40 for seniors and active duty military, at kavinokythreatre.com.

Female artists exhibit at Hallwalls

Two women artists are featured in the first big show of 2020 at Hallwalls (341 Delaware Ave.). The opening reception for Sarah Sutton and Katie Bell is at 8 p.m. Jan. 10 and includes talks by the artists. Sutton, who is based in Ithaca, has created a series of monochromatic oil paintings, described by the gallery as "essentially landscapes" that "combine representational imagery with distortions and abstractions that create scenarios in flux."

Bell has made a site-specific installation "conceived of as a one-act drama starring anonymous artifacts ... functioning like a theatrical set."

The exhibitions continue through Feb. 28 and can be seen during regular Hallwalls hours, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

And a reminder ...

The Cabaret at MusicalFare (on the Daemen College campus, 4380 Main St., Amherst) is hosting a one-night performance of "Nashville 2 New York" at 8 p.m. Jan. 10, with Ryan Kaminski and Jaclyn Brown sharing their North-South insights into American music. Word is that they may be joined by a couple of other MusicalFare favorites. Tickets are $22 at musicalfare.com.

Also, in anticipation of the opening of "The Antipodes" later in the week, Road Less Traveled Productions is hosting a free live broadcast of the podcast "Off Road with Peter Palmisano" at 1 p.m. Jan. 12. Palmisano's guest will be actor Sean Cullen, a Buffalo native and Broadway regular, who has returned to his local roots to lead the play's ensemble cast. Admission is first-come, first-served; seats can be reserved at the RLTP website.

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