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Variety.Com - 4/23/01

Variety.com
Brigadoon
04/23/01
(A Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam, Conn.; 398 seats; $44 top)A Goodspeed Musicials presentation of a musical in two acts with book and lyrics by Alan Jan Lerner and music by Frederick Lowe.  Directed by Greg Ganakas.
By Markland Taylor
"Brigadoon" opens Goodspeed Musicals' 2001 mainstage season with style and affection, not to mention the best-looking cast the company has ever assembled. Thanks to director Greg Ganakas, choreographer Peggy Hickey and the handsome performers, "Brigadoon" seems as fresh and fair as heather on the hill.
 
Since the musical is a fantasy, in which a town appears out of the Scottish mists only once every 100 years, physicial beauty is important.  Aren't heroes and heroines in fair tales always beautiful?  Hero Tommy (James Clow) is the epitome of the good-looking, clean-cut, American college boy next door, and his Fiona (Amanda Serkasevich) is everything a young woman of that name should be:  lissome, with red hair and flawless skin.  Charlie Dalrymple
(Daniel Reichard) is almost too handsome.
 
As it happens, the men dominate this "Brigadoon," partly because of Clow's and Reichard's strong presence and singing voices and the powerhouse dancing of Patrick Mullaney as thwarted-in-love Harry. Serkasevich, her loveliness and appealing personality aside, is handicapped by a thin singing voice and a strained highlands accent. Clow's singing is so much stronger than hers (his "Almost Like Being in Love" is rousingly ardent) that she's completely overpowered whenever they have a duet. Reichard also has a ringing singing voice, along Irish tenor lines.
 
Virtually all of the roles are well cast, notably the maturer ones, which are filled with distinction by performers such as David Barron, Paul Carlin and Dale Hensley. Under Ganakas' thoughtful direction, the fantasy of the musical is never allowed to become cloying; whenever it threatens to do so, the down-to-earth modernity of Clow's Tommy and his sidekick Jeff banish it. David Rossner makes the happy choice of underplaying the latter speaking role.
 
This production is set in 2001, though Brigadoon itself is still in 1801, with lovely  earth-colored period costumes to match (thankfully, designer John Carver Sullivan doesn't have a heavy hand with tartan). Lerner's strong book has been slightly updated, including a dumb reference to Calvin McKlein, but basically no harm has been done to it.
 
The score is, of course, enchanting. And although some of the female singing voices are lacking, for the most part it is given its due. The pit band under Michael O'Flaherty's direction plays well, though sometimes the sheer soaring lyricism of the songs calls out for a larger band, and some of the arrangements are too brass-heavy. The rich full-chorus singing is never more magical than in the final, unaccompanied reprise of the title song.
 
Hickey's balletic choreography pays homage to Agnes de Mille, the musical's original choreographer, and to Scottish dancing, but never slavishly. It's entirely appropriate that she often evokes a Scottish "Giselle." The women swoon and swirl, the men, led by Mullaney's thrilling Harry, hurtle and leap, including a sword dance for first three, then six, men.
 
The Goodspeed's small stage makes fierce demands on the set designer, and though Howard Jones' basic set isn't particularly beautiful, it works wonders with necessary scene changes by using a central craggy set piece that rotates and perambulates to suggest everything from a Scottish mountain to a village balcony. A first-rate bagpiper, Brian J. Cooper, adds to the highland atmosphere of this rewarding "Brigadoon."
 
Choreographed by Peggy Hickey; musical direction by Michael O'Flaherty. Set, Howard Jones; costumes, John Carver Sullivan; lighting, Kirk Bookman; orchestrations, Dan DeLange; stage manager, Donna Cooper Hilton. Goodspeed Musicals executive director, Michael P. Price. Opened, reviewed April 20, 2001. Running time: 2 hours, 20 min.
 
With: Paul J. Gallagher, Natalie Hill, Kevin Loreque, James R. Santos, Adam Souza, James Tabeek, Jennifer S. Taylor, Melanie Vaughan, Anna Winthrop.

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