Haywood Arts Regional Theatre’s (HART) latest production opened on Friday, July 12, to a large crowd of eager audience members. “Brigadoon,” the musical made popular by the film of the same name starring Gene Kelly, is a spectacular summer whirlwind filled with dance, romance and kilts!
“Brigadoon” tells the story of two lost hikers who have escaped their busy lives in New York City for a little downtime. Tommy Albright, played by visiting artist Nick Devito, is struggling with his decision to marry fiancÃ© Jane Ashton and recently postponed the wedding. Jeff Douglas, played by HART regular and dance instructor Ricky Sanford, is Tommy’s cynical friend who loves his flask more than anything else in life.
As they wander through the Scottish highlands, they hear far off singing and cross a bridge into the magical town of Brigadoon. As the townsfolk stare in wonder at the two strangers, Tommy and Jeff realize this is no ordinary town. Everyone is dressed in 1800s clothing, there is no cell phone service or even a phone, and Brigadoon citizens directly evade any questions related to the obvious abnormalities of their town.
Tommy immediately finds himself attracted to Fiona, played by WCU sophomore Samantha Alicandri. Fiona is a free spirit, who believes that women should not rush to get married in their younger years but wait for the right person to arrive. The two begin to fall for each other as Jeff desperately tries to escape lusty Meg Brocky, played by Emily Warren, and the rest of the town prepares for the big wedding that night. Meanwhile, the son of a weaver known as Harry Beaton, portrayed by Matthew Cord Scott who also choreographed the show, struggles to find his place in the town as he watches the woman he loves marry someone else. To him, Brigadoon is not a magical, glorious place; it is a curse, a prison. His character presents an interesting idea that none of the other townspeople seem to have grasped in only their second day of paradise. What if being in Brigadoon for the rest of your life was never part of your plan? His doubt provides a debate for audience members to discuss.
Directed and lighted by Steven Lloyd, the show bursts with color and charisma. While some of the show moves slowly through the love story, Scott’s choreography in dance numbers sprinkled through the two-act musical not only showcases the talent of his dance troupe but also tell a story through vibrant movement. The show truly kicks off with the welcoming to McConaughey Square as the audience meets all the “Brigadooners” who stand out as individuals with their different carts, baskets and vendor calls thanks to stage managing by Julie Kinter. As everyone greets one another and sells their wares, dancers break out center stage in the middle of the number for an electrifying dance of twirls and leaps. The same can be said of the tap number for “Go Home with Bonnie Jean,” which Tommy and Jeff pull off with fancy footwork that Brigadoon citizens are more than eager to learn. Another highlight is at the end of Act I. After the wedding ceremony, the townspeople celebrate by twisting themselves into a circular knot before Scott as Harry and WCU student Joshua Farrar as bridegroom Charlie square off with traditional Scottish steps in the sword dance. Immediately after, tempers explode, and Brigadoon is in peril.
Warren and Sanford steal with show with their mismatched characters butting heads on several occasions. Warren’s Meg is over the moon for Sanford’s Jeff, who wants nothing to do with the clingy milk maid. Warren’s busty costume is enough to cause giggles, but her deliverance of suggestive lines combated with Sanford’s moans of protest has audiences crying from tears of laughter. Their chemistry is undeniable and true.
However, the show is not all gold. Alan Jay Lerner, who wrote the musical’s book and lyrics, gives audiences some struggle with buying the whole explanation of Brigadoon’s oddities. There are a few plot holes and questions left unanswered. However, with Frederick Loewe’s fun music and the talented cast HART pulled together, the show is still a success. Strother Stingley explains the backstory of Brigadoon every performance as Mr. Lundy and pulls it off with humor and joviality. Be sure to watch for character depth from DeVito, Sanford and Alicandri as they react to this story as their characters. Jeff’s skepticism and confusion, Tommy’s intrigue and fascination, and Fiona’s enjoyment are an interesting mix.
Overall, the production has been met with large audiences and many compliments. If you are looking for fun live entertainment this summer, HART has exactly what you are looking for.
“Brigadoon” runs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. until Aug 3. There are also matinee performances on July 28 and Aug. 4 at 3 p.m. Ticket information can be found at harttheater.com or by calling the box office at 828-456-6322. Be sure to mention if you are a student for discounted ticket prices. Also, playing at HART is the musical review of “Side by Side by Sondheim” with one last performance on Aug. 3 at 2 p.m. For anyone interested in becoming a part of HART onstage, auditions for the musical “Avenue Q” will be held on July 28 and July 29 at 6:30 p.m. The show will be directed by Charles Mills.