There are some musicals that people want to go see for the clever lyrics, thrilling plot, and complex characters. Then there are some that people want to see to enjoy pretty dancing and singing. And since the romantic and magical Brigadoon falls into the latter category, it’s nice to be able to report that Pittsburgh CLO’s production of it was indeed very pretty and full of talent in the dancing and singing departments. Director Dontee Keihn created a show that completely enchanted the audience and even made us forget some of the plot holes that the script offers. At least until after curtain call, anyway.
If you’re not familiar with the show, it centers around two Americans who are traveling in Scotland and come across a village by the name of Brigadoon that, because of a miracle performed centuries ago, only appears once every hundred years. They meet and interact with Brigadoon’s citizens, and throughout the course of the day, they learn the town’s secrets. One of the Americans, Tommy Albright (played by Jeff Kready) falls in love with a Brigadoonian named Fiona MacLaren (Eryn LeCroy) and has to decide whether he will leave behind everything he’s ever known to be with her. Kready and LeCroy had a lovely chemistry together. It was obvious they were going to fall for each other from the moment they met, but that worked perfectly in the setting of the show. LeCroy’s vocals were impressive, but between her high pitch and the Scottish accent, it was easy to lose words in her songs. The second American, Jeff Douglas, is more of a sidekick in the show, but Jason Babinsky played him hilariously and stole every scene he was in.
The citizens of Brigadoon were all well represented. Even the background actors were constantly doing and moving, bringing the little town to life in every scene. I was impressed with how well everyone did with the accents; there were no actors who sounded obvious or unrehearsed. The same can be said with the quality of singing- all the musical numbers were strong and full of life, and all the actors worked together wonderfully throughout the show. The villagers who stood out most to me, however, were the sassy and mouthy Meg Brockie (Natalie Charle Ellis), the brooding and heartbroken Harry Beaton (Garren Scribner, who was easily the most talented dancer on stage), and the charismatic new groom Charlie Dalrymple (played that night by Dan DeLuca, whose incredible singing made me wonder why he wasn’t playing the role every night).
Each scene included at least one dazzling dance number, highlighting the merriment and community that belongs to the people of Brigadoon. Mark Esposito’s choreography was delightful and intricate, including several traditional Scottish dances. I never found a single dancer stepping out of place, at least not obviously, and in a show with so much dancing, that’s pretty impressive. Combine the exceptional dancing with costume designer Gal Baldoni’s beautiful Scottish outfits, and you had a show that was constantly pleasing to the eyes.
But the greatest visual masterpiece was certainly the ever-changing set. Scenic designer Tim MacKabee and lighting designer Paul Miller created gorgeous scenery that transformed easily between scenes. Whether it was a perfect background image of Scotland’s rolling hillside or a busy town square or the rolling fog that encompasses the city every night, you felt a part of that world. The magic of the village was apparent but not overwhelming, inspired by Scotland’s natural beauty.
I generally expect the CLO to put on a high-quality show, and Brigadoon certainly didn’t disappoint me. The only things I had real issues with were script related, like some of the specifics (or lack thereof) of the miracle that the town was benefiting from. But until we get a Brigadoon 2: The Prequel to explain all that away, audiences will have to enjoy it for what it is and rely on fantastic actors, singers, and dancers to make them believe the story. And for that, this particular show was a great success!
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