Oct 04, 2011
Leaving the cynical city (and its cynical musicals) behind, two men from New York 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 a classic romance from the Golden Age of the Broadway musical. It was the first big hit for the legendary team of lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe, a partnership that later produced My Fair Lady and Camelot.
Like other musicals of the Golden Age, this 1947 show features dancing (originally choreographed by Agnes De Mille) and tuneful songs that stay helplessly in the heads of hearers, such as “From This Day On,” “Heather on the Hill,” “There But For You Go I,” “Come to Me, Bend to Me,” “Waiting for My Dearie,” the comic “The Love of My Life,” and the classic “Almost Like Being in Love.”
Every two years the HSU Department of Theatre, Film & Dance and the HSU Department of Music collaborate on a big stage musical. Brigadoon is co-directed by Bernadette Cheyne and Richard Woods, with musical direction by Elisabeth Harrington. It features a full orchestra playing the lush score that captures the spirit of Scotland, conducted by Paul Cummings. Jeff O’Connor is the choreographer.
Although she usually gravitates towards edgier plays, co-director Bernadette Cheyne was attracted to Brigadoon by the strength of the love story and the confrontation between the values of modern life and less cynical times. Details in the script were updated to sharpen the contrast. “Even though this show is from 1947, we didn’t want it to be a period piece. We wanted to show how it connects to young people today, with the pressures they feel. We want the audience to feel that this is about them,” she said.
The Scotland location and Scottish feel to the music also was an attraction. “Cheyne is a Scottish name, and I’m most familiar with that side of the family. I love Scotland and its music. The music in this show is really beautiful.”
”The music itself is a major character,” said music director Elisabeth Harrington, “because it is used as an emotional anchor throughout the show.” It also expresses a major theme— the contrast between the contemporary city and Brigadoon. “You hear it in Tommy and Fiona’s duets, especially in ‘Almost Like Being in Love,’ when Tommy begins with a modern upbeat tempo, and Fiona slows it down with her Scottish accent, and they trade lines back and forth until they’re singing in harmony. So these two styles of two cultures are blending together, as well as two people as they fall in love.”
“I’ve directed four other musicals here over the years, with wonderful collaborations,” said co-director Richard Woods. “But this cast and the people I’m working with now are the best group I’ve ever seen here, ever. They bring a world of energy and enthusiasm.”
According to research by co-director Woods, Brigadoon was the first musical play produced by HSU on the Van Duzer Theatre stage. “Dr. John Pauley directed it—he was chair of the Theatre Arts department in the 1960s,” Woods recalled. “His wife Lynn designed the costumes. I was an undergraduate then, and I remember seeing it. John and Lynn Pauley supervised the design of the theatre and the Theatre Arts building. It was their vision that brought the program to its height. So this production is dedicated to John and Lynn Pauley.”
The new production will be the first musical since the makeover of the John Van Duzer Theatre this past summer, which was its first major renovation since opening as the Sequoia Theatre in 1960. This Brigadoon will also be the first HSU musical to use the new sound system and microphones. “We’ve finally moved into the 21st century,” Cheyne said. “We’re doing everything we can to bring the audience into this magical world.”
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. Other cast members include Camille Morgan as Meg, Michael Thomas as Jeff, Fran Wittman, David Callow, Nicol Hawkins, Richard Eisner, Lander Oppen, Ashley Adams, Sam Machado, Cat Clark, Raymond Alvarez, Georgia Bertolini, Denise Truong, Adrienne Ralsten, Juan Carlos Contreras, Candace Wase, Fiona Rose Melia, Danielle Arellaro, Jesse Carpentier, Elizabeth Chapman, Ivy Kelso, Kate Selway, Robert Keiber, Steve Nobles, Elliott Pennington and Natasha Steger.
Theatre, Film & Dance graduate students David Kenworthy designed the set, and Lynnie Horrigan the costumes. Undergraduate student Kitty Grenot designed makeup, Jim McHugh designed lighting and Glen Nagy designed sound. Stage manager is Genevieve Angle, Assistant Director is Megan Kimball and Dance Captain is Sophia Paulekas.
Brigadoon comes to HSU Thursdays through Saturdays, October 13-15, 20-22 at 7: 30 p.m., Sundays Oct. 16 & 23 at 2 p.m. in the Van Duzer Theatre on HSU campus in Arcata. $17/$12 general, $12/$10 students & seniors from HSU Box Office (826-3928.) Produced by HSU Departments of Music and Theatre, Film & Dance. http://HSUstage.blogspot.com and http://HSUMusic.blogspot.com.