Iowa can seem such a mythical place. That crossed my mind as I took in the Keegan Theatre’s top-notch production of the bittersweet, mystical romance of The Bridges of Madison County. Sure, Bridges is sentimental in its outlook, but no more so than say the male-oriented movie Field of Dreams, also set in the cornfields of a mythical Iowa–a movie in which a man gets to play catch one more time with his long-deceased dad among other deeply melancholy, tear-inducing moments (at least for me).

As cast, directed and choreographed by Kurt Boehm, the Keegan production is a look at what some may consider better days in America, at least as concocted with the music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five YearsParade) and book by Marsha Norman, based upon the mega-hit novel by Robert James Waller.

The Iowa of Bridges has no bombast. It is sweetly gauzy. There is a tight sense of community. A strong sense of place. A commitment to family, and making sacrifices for the well-being of children. All this, if one is white. All this if being an outsider living in the American heartland is being a WWII war bride from Italy who comes to Iowa with her ex-GI husband to help run a farm and have children. Her most obvious outsider status: speaking with a slight accent. It is a lovely, gauzy sense of what America was, what Iowa may be–and definitely a look backwards. … READ MORE