The Bridges of Madison County, currently at Signature Theatre, Ethan Heard had seen the musical during its original Broadway run.
He knew and appreciated Jason Robert Brown’s score. Yet, when Signature artistic director Matthew Gardiner asked Heard if he would helm the company’s Bridges, Heard initially was hesitant.Entering his second season as Signature’s associate artistic director, Heard, a gay, biracial Asian man, considered what he calls the “very white, very heteronormative” love story and wondered, “What is my access point going to be?”So he went to the source material — that is, the bestselling novel, and the hit film adaptation starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. “I watched the movie and read the script and read the book,” Heard says, noting the eroticism of author Robert James Waller’s language in the novel.“I found myself quite moved by the relationship, the sensuality and the longing,” he continues. “I was just like, ‘Oh, if I can make this universally erotic, and really think about eroticism not just as sexuality, but as life force and vivacity — that we all want to dance, we all want to experience life vividly — then that’s something that I can totally enjoy working on and politically stand behind.”Heard appears to be enjoying the work he’s doing since joining the Arlington-based outfit in 2022.Read more on metroweekly.com