Review "BRIGADOON": Love It Before It Vanishes!

Audio Podcast at ITUNES 
Narrated by Joshua Volkers

At Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson, Evanston
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
On vacation, an American falls for a Scottish lass.  Complications arise when he discovers she won’t be around the morning after.  What happens in Brigadoon…. disappears.  Light Opera Works presents BRIGADOON.  Two New Yorkers get lost on a hunting expedition in Scotland.  They stumble into a village.  It’s not on the map.  It has no phones.  It doesn’t take their currency.  Despite the culture clash, the quaint townsfolk welcome the tourists with curious delight.  There is to be a wedding that night and the Americans are invited.  Needing to pick up a few things for the ceremony, Fiona accepts Tommy’s offer to help. Together, they find love roaming the heather on the hillside.  But because of the town’s ‘blessing,’ their lifetime of happiness has to be a 24-hour thing.  Curses! It’s up to Tommy to keep love from vanishing.  BRIGADOON is a dreamy, lyrical romance suspended in time.  


BRIGADOON, premiering in 1947, has had many revivals including the 1954 movie starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse.  The book and lyrics by Alan J. Lerner and music by Frederick Lowe have a simplistic charm.  The premise captivates with a loch-ness-monster-type-amusement.  It’s all about lads and lassies waiting for ‘the one’ even if there is a HUGE age difference… of 200 years!  Under the direction of Roger L. Bingaman (conductor) and Rudy Hogenmiller (choreographer and stage director), this cast sings and dances with vibrant festivity.  In the lead, Robert Hunt (Tommy) robustly fills the theatre with a hearty, rich melody. As Tommy falls for Fiona, the audience falls for Hunt.  His duets with Jennie Sophia (Fiona) are sweet ballads of hope.  Sophia is a lovely match for Hunt and their harmony is magical.  An unusual pairing, Maggie Portman (Meg) and Clay Sanderson (Jeff) are the hysterical sidekicks.  Portman plays an aggressive maiden desperate for love in all the wrong places.  A vivacious Portman magnificently sings about her raunchy love quest.  Sanderson is wickedly droll.  His sarcasm is delivered with biting wit. Van Johnson would be flattered with Sanderson!  Rounding out the soloists, Brandon Moorhead (Charlie) enthusiastically sings about his dedication and passion for his fiance.  Moorhead endears as the retiring playboy and smitten groom.               

Along with the singing, there is the dance.  It’s a colorful swirling of skirts on the lads and lassies.  The kilts add to the whimsical spectacle by costume designer Ricky Lurie.  All different varieties of tartan are sashed and skirted to identify family clans.  The traditional attire emphasizes the authentic native look.  In addition, the cultural customs are weaved into the dancing.  High-spirited jigging is balanced beautifully with elaborate ballet sequences. With original choreography created by Agnes De Mille, the ensemble embraces the movement as keys to the storytelling.  The hot-head, Bobby Johnson (Harry), zealously leaps,  pounces, and swoops with competitive hostility.  In contrast, the bride, Emily A. Rogers (Jean), elegantly dances with gentle optimism.  Although the choreography adds some visually stunning moments, a couple dance sequences seemed superfluous to the overall plot.  Eliminating or shaving them down would have made the production streamlined and that much more enjoyable.         
Regardless, this BRIGADOON infatuates as vibrant entertainment.  It inspires with fervent relational conviction. It enchants with a high lovability factor.  But beware! 
As the mist is in the gloaming, this BRIGADOON will disappear in a week.  
Book and lyrics by Alan J. Lerner     
Music by Frederick Lowe
Directed and choreographed by Rudy Hogenmiller
Conducted by Roger L. Bingaman
Sunday, June 5th at 2pm,Wednesday, June 10th at 8pm, Friday, June 10th at 8pm
Saturday, June 11th at 8pm, Sunday, June 12th at 2pm
Running Time:  Two hours and forty-five minutes includes a delayed start and an intermission
Show BRIGADOON tickets at Prairie Moon, 1502 Sherman, Evanston, and receive 15% off the bill.

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