Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
One tends to forget that the Lerner and Loewe score is one of the "every song is gorgeous" school of music. And the story, an ageless fantasy, tugs on the heartstrings and makes us believe that miracles, indeed, can happen if one loves deeply enough.
Jeff (Wayne Legette) and Tommy (Matthew Taylor) are present-day travelers in Scotland. They spot a tiny village and, when they arrive, each are attracted to lovely lassies Fiona (Lauren Weinberg) and Meg (Mychal Phillips). They have an inkling that something is amiss. They soon learn that the town of Brigadoon comes alive only once every 100 years. The inhabitants simply go to bed at night and wake up a century later. If a resident escapes, Brigadoon will exist no more.
The only way such a fantasy can succeed is by doing it "straight" without any winking at the audience or sense of farce. Credit director Jeffrey Moss with keeping the action moving into a tight two hours as well as introducing a tad of "updating"something I am usually wary of (to put it mildly). Kudos to Mr. Moss for making it workbeautifully. The "present" day is indeed the present day, with selfies, iPads, modern phones, etc. all working like a charm.
The production opens with gorgeous projections (by Josieu Jean) of the highlands of Scotland. Luckily, Mr. Moss has allowed Mr. Legette to sing the opening rather than have the chorus do so, as is usually done. This allows Legette his only song of the evening. A prolific singer, one can forget his comedic abilities as evidenced by his delivering of zinger upon zinger of dialogue. As Jeff's best friend Tommy, Matthew Taylor is the centerpiecenot only due to the way the role is written and by the number of songs he has, but by the charisma and detail he brings to his lovestruck character. His "There But For You Go I" is, rightly, the showstopper. Handsome, masculine and charming, I kept thinking "can Javert be far behind?" He's perfect for it.
Adam Machart, as Charlie Dalrymple, has the most beautiful voice in the cast. His tenor on "Bonnie Jean" as well as "Come to Me, Bend to Me" will melt your heart. Christopher Brand, as Harry Beaton, the lad who is desperate to leave Brigadoon, delivers his dour dialogue with aplomb and his "Sword Dance" is a highlight of the evening. Oscar Cheda does double-duty as Mr. Lundy as well as Mr. Beaton, since Peter Librach, the original Beaton, took a fall on opening night and broke his heel. Cheda is especially good in his monologue explaining the mystery of Brigadoon.
On the distaff side, Lauren Weinberg, while a bit strident in her upper register, makes Fiona, for once, sexy. She is a woman who knows what she wants and goes after him. Alexandra Van Hasselt, in the thankless role of Jean, does what she can to good effect. If you have a terrific Meg Brockie, you know that you will have fun, even in the sad second act. Mychal Phillips is priceless. The slimmest waif, she has a huge belt and superb timing. "My Mother's Wedding Day" is delightful. A director would be smart to grab her for Hildy in On The Town.
Technically, everything is top drawer. The set, designed by Randel Wright, is on a turntable and looks foreboding, as a moors location should be. Expert lighting by Kirk Bookman enhances the various moods of the production. The costumes, as always at the Wick, are first-rate, by Derek Lockwood. As for the choreography, Lindsay Bell's work is perfection. All dances grow from the dialogue and she has a talented group of dancers. My only concern is that the male dancers, when singing, sound like, well, male dancers. One knows that they will grow stronger as the performances progress.
I lied. That's not my only concern. The Wick is becoming one of the top tier theatres in the South Florida region. If they want to ascend to even greater heights they must stop using tracks for their music and bring in live music. They are now charging $80 a ticket. For that sum, the audience is entitled to see a full production. The Wick has no orchestra pit and it would necessitate removing rows of seats. There are also alternatives. In the past, they have had live musicians in both wings with monitors to coordinate. While not ideal, it would add to the live theatre experience.
In closing, Brigadoon is a classic for a reason. Oh, that music! I might add that it's an ideal musical to introduce youngsters to. Yes, The Wick is bringing in Sally Struthers in Annie next season, but, in my humblest of opinions, Brigadoon will not only enchant them, but nurture their sense of wonder. It's just that lovely.
Brigadoon through April 8th, 2018, at The Wick Theatre, 7901 No. Federal Highway, Boca Raton FL. For information and tickets, call 561-995-2333 or visit www.thewick.org