|From left, Tomás Eredia as Harry Beaton, Erik Leiken as Piper |
and Scott Griffith as Sword Dancer are in
the DMTC production of “Brigadoon,”
on stage from April 22 through May 15.
Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo
I had no idea there were so many men with kilts in Davis until I entered the Jean Henderson Performing Arts Center for opening night of Davis Musical Theatre Company’s “Brigadoon.”
The lobby was full of them, including one man who brought his bagpipe (though didn’t play it), as well as women in various types of plaids, from skirts to sashes. The bar was serving a Scottish-named drink and I expected to see haggis at the snack bar.
It was all great fun and a good way to get in the mood for a trip back to Scotland to that mysterious highland town that appears out of the mist only once every 100 years.
The Lerner and Loewe classic has been around since it first appeared on Broadway in 1947 and became more popular when made into an MGM musical in 1954, with Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse. It has always been one of my favorites, and I was happy that this DMTC production, directed by John Haine, did not disappoint.
From the beautiful choral numbers sung by all the townspeople to the lively Scottish dancing choreographed by Ron Cisneros, this is a loving production enjoyed by the near-capacity crowd on opening night.
We first meet Tommy (F. James Raasch) and his sardonic friend Jeff (Coury Murdock) while they are wandering, lost in the Scottish highlands. Tommy confesses that he’s rather lost in his own life, too, engaged to a girl he’s not sure he loves, and part of a world in which he does not feel comfortable. The sounds from the waking Brigadoon seem to come right on cue.
Raasch is a likeable fellow who was a good choice for the role of Tommy. As for Murdock, the character Jeff has few, if any, redeeming qualities. He has a negative and sardonic outlook on life, which is not helped by the flask he keeps raising to his lips.
The two stumble into this 18th-century village enjoying the third day of their “miracle,” which will be explained later by the wise Mr. Lundie (Jeremy Carlson). Tommy is instantly drawn to Fiona MacLaren (Jeri Gonzales), who’s in town to shop for the wedding of her sister Jean (Jessica Arena).
The character of Fiona is quite a departure from the fiery Aldonza that Gonzales played in “Man of La Mancha” and she could not have done it better. Her voice has the strength to handle the most operatic melodies, yet her personality is warm and engaging.
Also outstanding is Scott Scholes, as Charlie Dalrymple, Jean’s fiancé. He had a delightful innocence about him as he contemplates his wedding (“I’ll go home with Bonnie Jean”).
Also outstanding is McKinley Carlisle as the bawdy, libidinous Meg Brockie, who lures Jeff to her shed and proceeds to show him that the Scots are more “generous” than they have a reputation for being. Her lusty “The Love of My Life” is great fun, as is her “My Mother’s Wedding Day.”’
Tomas Eredia had the monumental task of stepping into the role of Harry Beaton — Jean’s angry, scorned suitor, who threatens to destroy Brigadoon by leaving it — when the original actor cast in the role broke his leg two weeks before the opening. On the whole, he handles the role well, but he needs to work on “being dead” a bit more convincingly.
Alison Weaver, as Maggie Anderson, performs a heart-breaking grief dance following Harry’s death. We feel her pain.
The ache of the funeral is further spotlighted by the mournful bagpipe of Erik Leiken (who doesn’t love a good bagpipe?).
Jean Henderson’s colorful costumes add to the atmosphere of a Scottish village, especially in the entrance of the clans, with each decked out in its special tartan sash.
There is a new name in the pit, Peter Kagstrom as music director, who did a fine job with the DMTC underground orchestra.
For anyone who has enjoyed this delightful story over the years, or who just believes in magic and wants to see it appear on stage, this is an engaging production.