Los Angeles Theater Preview: BRIGADOON (Musical Theatre West in Long Beach)

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by Frank Arthur on May 12, 2015

in Theater-Los Angeles

MUSICALS LIKE THIS OCCUR ONCE EVERY 100 YEARS

In 1947, when Brigadoon confirmed the mutual genius of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, timing was everything: A second global conflict had just ended, leaving in its wake postwar angst and searing doubts that the millions of deaths had made no difference. Hoping that faith could move mountains, the authors harkened back to an old German fairy-tale motif to create the legend of Brigadoon, a Scottish town that created its own miracle in 1746 (the year of the disastrous Battle of Culloden). Rather than carry the guilt and pain of a fratricidal slaughter such as the Jacobite rebellion, a secessionist Highland hamlet would disappear into the mists, only to reappear for one day every 100 years. If any villager leaves the town during this rare and rationed day, Brigadoon would disappear forever, the miracle becoming a curse.

brigadoonThis universal idea—what some won’t do to escape the ravages and anguish of war—is not the only reason Brigadoon was a hit. Neither is the fact that it is an eternal love story. Brigadoon remains one of the greatest Broadway musicals of all time because the previously unsuccessful team of Lerner & Loewe created a book and score that was not only unhackneyed but completely enchanting. Now, this unashamedly romantic and escapist Broadway beauty arrives in a one-night only staged concert, courtesy of Musical Theatre West, this Sunday May 17, 2015, at 7:00 pm.

It may be true that Brigadoon is more often produced than the rarely-seen musicals chosen for one-night only reading series, but it’s mighty expensive to put on, so don’t expect it hitting your local stages soon. Besides, MTW’s readings are as good if not better than the shows I’ve seen with million-dollar budgets.

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On an expedition into the Highland wilds, two Americans, Tommy (Will Colyer) and his wisecracking, sardonic buddy Jeff (Shannon Stoeke) stumble into this once-a-century resurrection act. Mired in an unhappy engagement back home, dreamer Tommy unexpectedly finds a strange stability in this transient town. His quest for redemption and reality is anchored in his sudden love for the lovely lassie Fiona (get ready for the glorious and melodious tones of Jill Van Velzer).

brigadoon-movie

Jeff, who just wants a rest (but not Brigadoon-long), finds himself doggedly pursued by vixenish Meg (Kirklyn Robinson). Meanwhile, trouble brews as hot-headed Harry Beaton (Adam Gartz) seethes with jealousy over the imminent wedding of Fiona’s sister “bonnie” Jean (Allison Sheppard) to stalwart Charlie Dalrymple (Caleb Shaw). When Harry’s disruption of the nuptials threatens to destroy the town forever, Tommy and Jeff realize that their arrival has altered time and endangered a necessary make-believe.

However implausible the miracle that has robbed these townsfolk of all but a sliver of their future, this realistically-drawn, modern-day Celtic fairy tale gleams with gold—priceless songs that melt you in the first measure: Tommy’s ardent “Almost Like BRIGADOON.Being in Love” and “From This Day On”; Fiona’s graceful “The Heather on the Hill,” and “Waitin’ for My Dearie”; and Charlie’s triumphant “I’ll Go Home with Bonnie Jean” and gorgeous ballad “Come To Me, Bend to Me.” The generous score also allows Meg to crack us up with the patter numbers “Love of My Life” and “My Mother’s Wedding Day.”

Also in the cast are Gary Reed (as the town minister and resident miracle explainer Mr. Lundie), Carlin Castellano, Jackie Cox, Matthew Dunn, Amy Glinkas, Jennifer Hoyt, Rob Hoyt, Jordan Lamoureux, Roy Leake, Jr., Ashley Fox Linton, and Marc Montminy. Generous underwriters have made it possible to bring on a live 12-piece orchestra, so “come ye to the fair” to find that the mystery of this hundred-year event still casts a spell.

Brigadoon
Musical Theatre West
part of the Reiner Staged Reading Series
University Theatre at CSULB
(corner of 7th and East Campus Drive)
Sunday, May 15, 2015 at 7:00
for tickets (only 27 bucks!) visit MTW

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