Brigadoon at the Goodman Theatre

Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner-Goodman-Theatre

Music by Frederick Loewe

Revised Book by Brian Hill

Directed and Choreographed by Rachel Rockwell

Musical Direction by Roberta Duchak

At the Goodman Theatre, Chicago

Thrilling and beautifully stage Scottish Myth sings and dances into out hearts!

Until Rachel Rockwell and the creatives at the Goodman Theatre have put their considerable skills and assists in use has there been a major remount and revised production of Brigadoon.  This 1947 Broadway  musical and a hit 1954 film with Gene Kelly, with fabulous Scottish influenced music by Frederick Loewe, upon the lush lyrics and fine book by Alan Jay Lerner,  has emerged into a tuneful evening of  magical musical theatre!   This sweetly charming ethnic fable contains wonderful dances and several exquisite romantic ballads but the sheer charm and wholesomeness of the morality indeed get us to believe that anything is possible if you love hard enough. There is much to love in this fabulous production.

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 Brigadoon finds two Americans are on a hunting trip to the rural highlands of Scotland in 1946 when they encounter a heavenly mist that carries them into a quaint old fashion Scottish village filled with folks dressed in traditional 18th Century costumes complete with kilted men and bonnet wearing women.  There is a charming spirit in this village deftly depicted by the ensemble numbers “Brigadoon” and “Vendors’ Calls.” The atmosphere of a quaint time when folks got along and peace prevailed as the villagers get ready for a wedding with songs like “Down on MacConnachy Square,” “Waitin’ for My Dearie’ – that finds Fiona (Jennie Sophia revising her role from the 2011 Light Opera works production) as  the girl wishing for a mate. There is to be a wedding in Brigadoon this night.

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The groom, Charles (Jordon Brown) and the men sing the rousing dance tune “I’ll Go Home with Bonnie Jean.” After the love-starved American, Tommy Albright (Kevin Early) and the sensual Fiona flirt producing sparks, they sing the enchanting romantic ballad “The Heather on the Hill” that affirms their mutual interest.

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Meggie Portman, who  revisits the role of Meg Brockie, plays the comic love-starved maiden with feisty energy as she bring the house down with “The Love of My Life.” Tommy and Fiona seal their love with the duet “Almost Like Being in Love” – the most famous song from the show. Early and Sophis marvelously soar to the heavens in this terrific tune- sparks do fly!Brigadoon is a fine ethnic dance show that beautifully showcases traditional Scottish step dancing and sensual ballets in “Jeanie’s Pickin’ Up’ and the showstopping “Wedding Ceremony/Sword Dance and Reel.” Bagpipes, colorful costumes together with expert dancing fuel the pageantry of traditional Scottish culture.

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Kevin Earley shows of his considerable vocal range in “There But for You Go.” But time is running out for Brigadoon as the town comes to life  just one day every 100 years. The Scottish mythical fable has rules that only love can makes exceptions with as the charming villagers struggle to maintain their existence and live within the magic rules. Can true love lead to an outsider becoming a villager in Brigadoon?  Get to the Goodman Theatre  hear Mr. Lundie (Roger Mueller) explain the rules of Brigadoon’s covenant. You quickly become engaged by the  lush, lovely and lively remount of one of the almost forgotten shows from the Golden Age of Broadway Musicals. 
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Every element in this production is first class: the costumes (by Mara Blumenfeld) are authentic; Aaron Spivey’s lighting with Kevin Depinet’s sets and Shawn Sagadt’s projections combined to create the mystical atmosphere that became Brigadoon. The masterful  ethnic dances  and the rich Scottish brogues together with wonderful harmonies gave a lilt to Loewe’s score.  Jordan Brown nailed the sensual ballad “Come to Me, Bend to Me” and Rod Thomas added cynical quips while the villagers exuded warmth charm and genuine goodness worthy of a fable. But the real winner here are the songs that propel the myth as a search for innocence with the power of love. You’ll leave the theatre humming the tunes that will satisfy your appetite for classic musicals. The Goodman Theatre needs to put their artistic resources behind a remount of a classical musical each summer.  Could “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” or “Stop the World I Want to Get Off ” become a part of that tradition? One can hope. 
Highly Recommended
Tom Williams
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: July 7, 2014
At the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, Chicago, call 312-443-3800, www.goodmantheatre.org/brigadoon, tickets$25 – $98, Tuesdays thru Thursdays at 7:30 pm,Friday & Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 7:30 pm, matinees on Thursdays, Saturdays & Sundays at 2 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission, through August 17, 2014