Friday, October 21, 2011


Who can resist discovering a magic world?  Brigadoon is one of the classic Golden Age musicals, but isn't performed as often as the others.  Now it's on the Van Duzer Theatre stage at HSU, beginning Thursday (October 13) at 7:30 p.m. for two weekends (Thurs.-Sat.), including two Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.  It's the big musical produced by the HSU Department of Theatre, Film & Dance with the HSU Department of Music every two years.

The story: Leaving the cynical city (and its cynical musicals) behind, two New York men drift out of cell phone range into the Scottish highlands, where they discover an enchanted village that lives only for a day every 100 years, called Brigadoon. There they find new love and a different way to live. But can the magic last, and if it’s lost, can it be found again?

Brigadoon is the first Broadway hit by Lerner and Loewe, who later were responsible for My Fair Lady and Camelot.  The HSU production updates this 1947 show slightly to make the modern point of view relevant to today's audiences, but the timeless village of Brigadoon--and the great songs and music--remains the same.   Brigadoon is co-directed by Bernadette Cheyne and Richard Woods, with musical direction by Elisabeth Harrington. It has the special advantage (for me at least) of a full orchestra, playing the lush score that captures the spirit of Scotland, conducted by Paul Cummings.  Jeff O’Connor is the choreographer.

Miles Raymer plays Tommy Albright, a troubled young man from 2011 Manhattan, and Brandy Rose is Fiona MacLaren, the woman who wins his heart in Brigadoon. Philip de Roulet plays Charlie, and Jessi Shieman plays Jean, the Brigadoon couple about to be married as the play begins. Camille Morgan plays the playful Meg, Michael Thomas is Jeff (the other New Yorker), and Fran Whittman is Lundie.  There's much more information at HSU Stage & Screen and HSU Music, authored by yours truly.

There have been a lot of musicals in a row hereabouts (with a small one yet to come), but Brigadoon is the only one that's from the classic Golden Age of the Broadway musical, usually considered to be from the 1940s into the 1960s.  It's probably the least known of the first tier of those musicals, which definitely must include two other Lerner & Loewe shows, My Fair Lady and Camelot. 

The New York Drama Critics Circle named the original production the best musical of the year, praising its “thoughtful beauty” representing “the lyric theatre at its best.” Lerner (book and lyrics) and Loewe (music and vocal arrangments.) It includes the classic song, “Almost Like Being in Love.”

I don't want to get into full review mode here, but I did see it on opening night--and above all, I did hear it, all of it--which has sometimes been a problem in the Van Duzer Theatre.  Thanks in part to presentation, and in part to the new miking and sound system, this HSU musical is fully audible as well as visible.  Based on the music alone, I would advise not missing this opportunity.  The singing is terrific, and at times wonderful and moving. There are individual songs--yes, real Golden Age songs in a musical!--and some impressive choral singing.  The orchestra makes a big difference, too. 

The village of Brigadoon lives but one day, then disappears for a century.  When this show disappears, it could be a long time before there's another Brigadoon on the North Coast.

 David Kenworthy is scenic designer, Lynnie Horrigan designed costumes, Kitty Grenot the makeup, James McHugh lighting and Glen Nagy the sound. Brigadoon is on the Van Duzer Theatre stage at HSU for one more weekend.  More information at HSU Stage & Screen.

No comments: