Elon University’s Department of Performing Arts debuts “The Bridges of Madison County” on Friday, Feb. 10. The emotional love story will run through Sunday at McCrary Theatre in the Center for the Arts. 

The show follows a housewife from Iowa by the name of Francesca Johnson who finds herself in a four-day love affair after her husband and kids leave for a trip. Francesca struggles over whether to choose a fulfilled life, or what is inherently right.

Senior Jakov Schwartzberg, associate director of the show, said it has been special to work closely with each student.

“It is a really wonderful group of people that I have gotten to work with, where the trust between us all just continued to build,” Schwartzberg said. “We were able to  sort of throw things at them, and they would always dive in and create new and exciting learning experiences.” 

Elon senior Abby Harnum, who plays the role of Francesca Johnson, said one reason this show is so special is its music. While working on the show, Harnum’s favorite experience was singing for the first time with the full orchestra.

“It was a really magical moment because this score is so complex and beautiful,” Harnum said. “Hearing these Italian melodic themes of the music blend with an American western theme for the first time kind of just made everything click.”

Schwartzberg talked about putting all the technical elements of the show together. He discussed the elements of acting, singing, dancing, lighting, set design and costumes all working to create what happens on the stage. 

“There are always sort of jumps in the process where you take a big leap, and then you are stagnating for a bit, and then you take another big leap,” Schwartzberg said. “Adding the lights, the sets and the costumes is one of the most enjoyable and exciting leaps to take.”

Harnum said the message behind this show is about how “everything happens for a reason.”

“The audience is definitely going to cry, as the show deals with really big decisions and the consequences that come with them,” Harnum said. “But that’s what leads to eventually having satisfaction in one’s life.” 

Performances of “The Bridges of Madison County” are at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10 , at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 11  and at 2 p.m. Feb. 12  at McCrary Theatre. Tickets are free for students and $15 for the public.