Review by Danny Gaisin
First off; let’s deal with the elephant in the room. This scribe has read Gerstacker’s Germelhausen and it’s the antithesis of Lerner & Lowe’s terrific musical – BRIGADOON! One is a depressing tale of a curse; negativism and a depressing ending; the other is about hopes and miracles! I’ve seen Brigadoon numerous since 1957’s road company performances and loved every version. From the exciting opening number to the quotable last line (“ye must love her very much…Ye WOKE ME UP” and then the line about anything being possible if one believes in miracles). This scribe actually applauds WHEN Peter Pan needs support to revive Tinker Bell. Imagine how I respond to such an affirmative ending! Yup –teary-eyed. Photo courtesy of ShawFest
The libretto is about two Americans hunting in Scotland as part of a pre-wedding bachelor holiday. They’re lost and stumble on an un-mapped town that seems two centuries behind the times. Hey meet the townspeople; attend a local wedding; fall in love and then must leave before the town vanishes into the mist. Unless they fall in love with a local girl. To tell more would be a spoiler but can in good conscience refer you to the quoted line above.
This SHAW version under the terrific direction of Glynis Leyshon utilizes Brian Hill’s revised take and it is both delicate and penetrating. Her treatment is thoughtful and utilizes a delicate touch. The set; costumes; impeccable orchestra work by Paul Sportelli and especially the choreographed numbers by Linda Garneau are all superb and seem to capture the very essence of a Shangri La-ish environ. She has created an especially memorable pas-de-deux for George Krissa and Madelyn Kriese as the engaged couple that is as sensitive and expressful as the iconic dance duet by performed by “Susan the Silent” and Leprechaun “OG” in “Finian’s Rainbow.
Lowe’s music is both memorable and enchanting. Even without context such songs as ‘Waitin’ for my Dearie’; Go Home with Bonnie Jean; “Heather on the Hill”; ♫ Come to me, bend to me ♪ ; the romantic -There but for you go I; the rousing “MacConnachy Square and the hilarious “My Mother’s Weddin’ Day” will remain as iconic epitomes of Broadway’s best-of-genre. Referencing the latter; our post-curtain eavesdropping overheard superlatives about Kristi Frank’s interpretation of the slightly risqué young lassie ‘Meg Brockie’ !
The lead roles of American ‘Tommie Albright” and Brigadoon native ‘Fiona MacLaren’ are portrayed by George Krissa & Alexis Gordon respectively. Both are triple-threat performers with Gordon having an edge with her superb diction and vocal projection. She also seems more sincere in her ‘Waiting for my Laddie’ intentions. A stand-out among the support cast is that of Matt Nethersole whose Charlie Dalrymple had us singing about “Going home with Bonnie Jean” all the way back to our hotel (184 year-old Heritage-designated MOFFAT INN almost next door to the Festival itself). Director Leyshon has cast Patty Jamieson in the usually male role of Mr. Lundie; in this case Mistress ‘L’, and unfortunately her brogue made it difficult to understand the descriptive of the history behind the miracle on which the story is centered.
One cannot describe this musical without mentioning the poetry that is intrinsic to the lyrics. Alan Lerner’s rhymes and meter are the equal to anything Hammerstein created for his collaborations with Richard Rogers. So, the music, lyrics, staging, acting/singing/dancing; costuming and direction make this probably the BEST interpretation I’ve enjoyed. Can’t recommend it highly enough and it’s a sure-fire inclusion in our annual Top Ten ARTS REVIEW listing for 2019. Don’t miss it, it’s at the SHAW’s Festival theatre until October.