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Brigadoon

Date

10th March 2016

Society

Astwood Bank Operatic Society

Venue

Palace Theatre Redditch

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Iain Waddell

Musical Director

Austin Poll

Choreographer

Additional Choreogrphy Roz Chalk, Kirsty Hendry

Report

Author: Ian G Cox

This rather gentle musical is about a small town in the Scottish Highlands that comes to life for one day. Only then disappears for a century. Yes a far-fetched story as often musicals are, though written in 1947 by one of musical theatres most successful teams – Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Lowe has a certain appeal. The duo of course went on to be hugely successful with “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot”

An encounter with the village schoolmaster in the mist of this enchanting place by two Americans out hunting is followed by a series of happenings of life love and tragedy as we follow the villagers through the day and learn that if one of the villagers should leave Brigadoon the spell will be broken for ever.

20th-century American lad ‘Tommy Albright’ played by David Steele and the 18th-century Scottish lass ‘Fiona MacKeith’ Abigail Cole, who fall for each other at first sight, were well matched in voice and character, demonstrating good chemistry in their performance. “The Heather on the Hill” ‘From This Day On” and the ever popular “Almost like being in Love” which emerged become a popular standard were a delight to enjoy Steve Skinner interpreted his character ‘Jeff Douglas’ as the stereotypical American cynic with a suitable injection of humour and melodrama. Chasing him amorously around the stage was the vivacious Meg Brockie played by Eleanor Perbedy with energy and panache as they both brought out the comedy. All four in their solos, duets, and when leading the chorus pieces were vocally strong with fine voices. The story was convincingly told by ‘Mr. Murdoch the Dominie’ with Stewart Vick looking and sounding impressive on stage including with the men’s chorus in Men of Brigadoon.

Fiona’s sister Jean (Georgina Roberts) is happily betrothed to Charlie (Alan Hastings)  “ I’ll Go Home with Bonnie Jean” but their love has left a deep wound in the heart of ‘Harry Ritchie’, The ‘villain' of the piece, who provides the only conflict or tension in the plot was played well by Elliot Mitchell including a performance of the sword dance with some style. His sense of grievance ultimately costing him his life. Other principles also played their roles in an accomplished manner.

The ladies and men’s chorus were strong and delivered admirable balanced harmony, particularly in the big ensemble pieces. Especially impressive was the gathering of the clans which created an effective picture on stage in character and costume. A little more cheering and energy would have made the wedding scene more believable though all the dance routines were performed well

The set created the right level of atmosphere including the famous mist we associate with Scotland and the orchestra too from the overture and throughout created the right tone and balance

This is not a show frequently staged these days and presents those who take it on with some challenges. It is a credit to this production the challenge was well met and with one or two exceptions its Scottish director can feel pleased with the delivery of the “North of the Border” accent.

Ian G Cox

Regional Representative - Worcestershire East (District 12)

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