Check your skepticism at the door before taking your seat for Chicago’s Goodman Theatre revival of “Brigadoon”—a song and dance fantasy that recreates an idyllic place unaffected by time. This legendary Lerner and Loewe musical from Broadway’s Golden age has been a stranger to the stage for many years.
Not easy to produce and considered “dated” by many, the 1947 “Brigadoon” musical and its 1954 successful film version starring Gene Kelly, was last produced on Broadway in 1981.
But now “Brigadoon” lives again–thanks to the efforts of Alan Jay Lerner’s daughter, Liza Lerner who rescued it from the mothballs (a term used since the 1800’s meaning to stop using something while keeping it to be possibly used in the future…and currently by the urban dictionary in various guises).
Liza brought the book to director/choreographer Rachel Rockwell and writer Brian Hill asking them to freshen it up for today’s audiences.
When Liza was asked, why Brigadoon? She offered this explanation: “I’m often asked ‘why revive Brigadoon now?’ and my response every time is, ‘why not now!’ Of my father’s most memorable works—My Fair Lady, Camelot and Gigi, among them—Brigadoon is the most romantic. The music is deliriously beautiful. And most importantly, I’ve found the right storytellers in Rachel Rockwell and Brian Hill,” she continued “Chicago is a great theater town, and the Goodman is world-renowned for its high quality productions. I’m so happy to be here.”
Rockwell has given “Brigadoon” her best shot and it shows–turning it into a spectacular production (with an eye toward Broadway). Her first-class revival has preserved the original innovations of Agnes de Mille, while maintaining the charm and spirit of the piece.
Even if you can’t swallow the unlikely tale of a utopian Scottish village that comes to life for only one day every 100 years, you can still enjoy the pageantry.
Sit back and let the magnificent sounds of the 13-piece live orchestra led by Valerie Maze wash over you. You may even become a believer as the bagpipes bring alive the rolling green hills of the 18th-century Scottish countryside.
With some of the best songs that Broadway has to offer like “Almost Like Being In Love”, “The Heather on the Hill”, “Come to Me, Bend to Me” and “There But For You Go I” performed by a company of 28 actors, dancers and singers–“Brigadoon” delivers.
The cast headed by 20th-century American Tommy Albright (Kevin Earley) and 18th-century Scottish lassie Fiona MacLaren (Jennie Sophia) perform Loewe’s nearly operatic songs to perfection. The flirtatious dairy maid Meg (Maggie Portman), who’s hot on the trail of the unwilling Jeff (Rod Thomas), is an accomplished dancer and singer with just the right comedic touch.
This major revival of “Brigadoon” has all the bells and whistles–and even the heather.
When Brigadoon debuted on Broadway in 1947, it was Lerner and Loewe’s third musical—and the one that established them as a formidable Broadway composing team. The plot, according to Lerner, occurred to him when Loewe offhandedly remarked that “faith moves mountains.” When American tourists Tommy and Jeff become lost on vacation in Scotland, they stumble into a town that isn’t on their map. Eventually they learn that Brigadoon was once a bustling town but now only appears for one day each century. While the two men sort out the town’s curious circumstances—including that no outsiders can stay unless they fall in love, and no resident can ever leave or the village will vanish forever—Tommy meets the love of his life. But what happens when the day ends, and Brigadoon fades into the mountain mist for another century?
Tickets and information
“Brigadoon” has been extended through August 17th at the Goodman Theatre, 170 North Dearborn. Tickets at 312-443-3800 or at Goodman online.
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