IF YOU GO
What: A mystical Scottish village appears one day every 100 years
When: Tuesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinées through March 31.
Where: 1380 Colonial Boulevard, Fort Myers (in Royal Palm Square)
Cost: $27 to $51. Show only $27.
Information: 239-278-4422 or broadwaypalm.com
Something Else: Ticket prices include meal & show; show-only tickets available
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"There may be other days as rich and rare," but there will be few productions as grand as Broadway Palm's "Brigadoon." The dance. The voices. The acting. The artistry. It combines into a grand, majestic vision of timeless, everlasting love rings throughout the Scottish Highlands.
"Brigadoon," with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, is the story of two American tourists who stumble upon a mysterious Scottish village that appears only once every hundred years. The 1947 show, while not the first Lerner and Lowe collaboration, was their first Broadway blockbuster; it would be followed by "My Fair Lady" and "Camelot."
The lush, romantic fantasy harkens back to the Golden Age of Broadway, when musicals strove to sweep audiences into another world with their stories. "Brigadoon" boasts a brilliant, heart-rending story and wholly believable characters. Meanwhile, Loewe's soaring, evocative lyrics invite listeners to imagine themselves cavorting "through the heather on the hill."
Fort Myers audiences again benefit from Broadway Palm being a mini-chain. "Brigadoon" just finished a run at Broadway Palm West in Mesa, Arizona - and the cast arrives well versed in their parts. Director M. Seth Reines hammered and shaped the cast into a perfect musical theatre instrument.
What "Brigadoon" does so well - especially this production - is present a total package of music, movement and strong acting. Heartfelt scenes slip seamlessly into gorgeous vocals. Better, this production manages not to make hash of the Scottish accents. Singers also capture the lovely, sweet, trilling highs that make the show's music so memorable.
Everything comes accompanied by delicate shifts in the lighting and wrapped throughout with vigorous, flashing choreography that gives a sense of vitality and also the show's plaintive longing. Original dances for "Brigadoon" were created by Agnes DeMille; the Broadway Palm production was choreographed by Dottie Lester White.
Jason Fleck makes an appealing lost hunter Tommy, romancing village lass Fiona (a fabulously sweet Jeannie Shubitz). They sell their love story better than most Hollywood blockbusters. Your heart will break watching Fleck pour his soul into "There But For You Go I."
The show owes much of its power to their combined charm and the way that Shubitz can capture the audience with a toss of her red ringlets and a wide smile. Her lilting voice sounds near angelic - especially when paired with Fleck's robust, resonant tenor. Duet "Heather on the Hill" fairly bristles with flirtatious energy, while "From This Day On" brims with unspoken longing and emotion.
While the love story between Tommy and Fiona drives the show, "Brigadoon" offers many other delights - especially the magical dance numbers. If it is perhaps a stretch to expect authentic Scottish dancing - the cast gives it a solid go - and the show's biggest dance numbers don't disappoint.
"Down on MacConnachy Square" serves up the town's delights, while "The Wedding" features kilts, swords and all manner of excitement. Only rousing "My Mother's Wedding Day" feels a letdown. In other spots, the simplicity of a single dancer - curving across the stage, winding a length of plaid fabric - creates a sense of graceful beauty.
Sal Pavia makes a charming Charlie - and leads a bouncing rendition of "I'll Go Home With Bonnie Jean." Michael Dinneen adds desperation to the part of heartbroken Harry Beaton; he's watching the woman he love marry someone else - and he can't leave the village because of its magical spell.
Morgan Springer gives surprising depth to one-note village sexpot Meg Brockie. Her tastefully filthy "The Love of My Life," about her long search for the perfect husband - carried out with poor lost hunter Jeff (Victor Legarreta) - brought some of the biggest laughs of the night. (Sample lyrics: "I never went back, for what I had heard was true: That a poet only writes about the things he cannot do.")
Tom Tutino's verdant sets transport the crowd to the mossy glens of Scotland. Fiona makes her farewell to Tommy as the mist closes in over Brigadoon - and escapes over a rocky footbridge. Russell A. Thompson's stunning lighting includes a moonscape that bathes the village in soft, mystical light. John P. White's costumes extend to full kilts with sporrans, garter flashes and elaborate dresses in an array of soft pastels for the ladies that flare during as they twirl across the stage.
Loren Strickland conducts a five-piece orchestra, with additional orchestrations by JR McAlexander. While purists would wish for - and appreciate - a full orchestra, the Broadway Palm band does a solid job in giving the audiences the flavor of the lush score without sounding the least bit tinny. There were some issues with mic feedback at Saturday night's performance.
Take a stroll in the Scottish Highlands. Get lost. Really lost. Maybe the mists will roll in, a mysterious light will appear and the delicate tones of "Brigadoon, Brigadoon," will sound out. If that isn't feasible, take in a magical evening (or matinée) in at Broadway Palm. Forever. For always. "Brigadoon."