Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Brigadoon

It was during the chase scene at the start of act 2 of the Davis Musical Theater Company’s new production of Lerner & Lowe’s “Brigadoon” that the age-old question was finally answered. A soft murmur went through the audience as we realized that we finally knew what a Scotsman wears under his kilt.

Brigadoon is a fairytale about a mysterious village in the highlands of Scotland which, thanks to “the miracle,” only appears one day every hundred years. For the townsfolk, life goes on a usual, but every morning when they awake, 100 years has passed in the outside world. “The miracle” was an agreement between the town cleric and God to spare the inhabitants from the threat of witches. The only threat to the village now is extinction, if anyone were to actually leave and break the spell.

The set for this show (designed by Steve Isaacson) is beauty on a modest scale. There is a lovely arching bridge festooned with garlands of greenery. There is heather on a nearby hill, and, at the start of the show, there is a huge book which sets the theme of a “fairy tale” very nicely.

The opening song is a choral number. I have been consistently impressed with the quality of the choral ensembles for DMTC (Isaacson and Laura Marzluft are credited with Musical and Vocal Direction). Their rendition of the title song was hauntingly beautiful.

Into the picture come Tommy Albright (Brennan Cull), a young man looking for meaning in his life. Tommy is engaged to Jane (Sue Sablan), but there is something missing and he doesn’t know what it is. He has some on a hunting trip to Scotland with his friend Jeff Douglas (Michael McElroy), a sardonic sidekick with a drinking problem. The two are lost and trying to sort out their map, which places them exactly in the location of ... nothing.

Suddenly the mist begins to lift and there is a quaint little village. The townsfolk are in the midst of preparations for the wedding of Jean MacLaren (Katherine Coppola) and Charlie Dalrymple (J.R.Humbert) when the oddly dressed strangers arrive.

(The Learner & Lowe script does take a bit of suspension of disbelief. If the time table is to be believed, the villagers are living in 1746, yet they seem to know about “America.” But let that pass!)

Jean’s sister Fiona MacLaren (Caitlin Kiley) has been ruminating about the lack of love in her life and how she’s waiting for that special someone to come along (“Waiting for My Dearie”) when the disillusioned Tommy walks into her life. Can we guess where this plot is headed?

Once again, DMTC has assembled a stellar cast. Though Gene Kelly played Tommy in the M.G.M. musical, there is a lot of Bing Crosby about Cull’s appearance. Cull was last seen as Curly in Oklahoma and I don’t remember him having projection problems in that production. His voice, to be sure, is strong and clear and wonderful, but much of his dialog is lost because he speaks so softly. Still he gives a wonderful performance as a man falling in love for the first time and then facing the decision of whether to give up everything for the woman he thinks he loves, or lose her forever.

Kiley is a winsome Fiona, full of spirit and longing, not willing to settle for second best, yet yearning for a love of her own as she helps her sister prepare for her wedding.

Many in the cast are excellent, such as Humbert, the eager bridegroom with the big voice, and Lauren Miller, last seen as Annie Oakley in “Annie Get Your Gun,” as the lusty Meg Brockie, who quickly gloms onto Jeff and drags him off for a little canoodling.

Tony Gabrielson is Harry Beaton, Jean’s scorned suitor who threatens to bring an end to Brigadoon by leaving the village. In chasing Beaton to prevent him from leaving, the whole theater is used and townsfolk often pass Beaton in the process. There seems to be no logic why they would bump into Beaton and then continue to run past him. Again, another bit of suspension of disbelief.

All is forgiven, though, during the sword dance at Jean and Charlie’s wedding. Dancers Tony Gabrielson, Katherine Coppola, Chris Petersen, Scott Sablan, Ryan Westlake, Jabrille Shelton, Dian Hoel, Lorna deLeoz, Lindsay Dibben and Shannon Kendal deserve kudos for their perfectly executed dance.

A bagpiper, Chris Van Wart is listed in the program, but for some reason did not appear on stage for the funeral march. (A pity–I love the bagpipe!)

DMTC has a hit on their hands with this production, as evidenced by the near capacity audience at the Hoblit Performing Arts Center on opening night.

4 comments:

S. S. said...

I was surprised that you did not mention the beautifully moving ballet solo performed by Shannon Kendall in the second act. Her performance deserves recognition as among the most convincing in the show.

Emily said...

Bev. I wish that you would do more reviewing and less summarizing. You just mentioned some of the people and didn't even comment on their performance. I think that Lauren Miller deserved much more than you gave her. As did Shannon Kendall and Katherine Coopala with their beautiful ballet solos.
Please focus more on reviewing and less on giving a summary of the show.

Bev Sykes said...

Emily -- please e-mail me privately.

B. Durbin said...

The continent was called "America" as early as Shakespeare's time, though the colony names were more often used as references. In 1746 it wouldn't have been quite the exile that it was a century prior.