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Brigadoon

Brigadoon
Corn Stock Theatre 
May 31 - June 6

By Stan Strickler

If you love Oklahoma  then you will love Brigadoon currently playing at Corn Stock Theatre, for this play is merely Okalahoma set in the Scottish highlands complete with two love stories, one serious and one comic, an angry spurned lover, and a fight to retain traditional values.  This production has wonderful singing, beautiful dancing, and some comic moments; however the whole production seemed to add up to something less than the sum of its parts for it seems to lack in any emotional connections.

The story of the play revolves around two world-weary American tourists Tommy Albright and Jeff Douglas.  They stumble upon a mysterious village that doesn’t appear on any map, and when they enter the town, they discover that two of the young townspeople are about to be married.  But a mystery shrouds the ceremony since the groom is thankful that the miracle has been delayed.  Later on we discover that the miracle is that the town only appears for one day every hundred years in order to preserve the goodness of the people there.  Tommy immediately falls in love with Fiona, the bride’s sister, but after the wedding he decides to go back to New York to be with his fiancĂ© whom he has had trouble committing to.  Eventually everything turns out as it should and through another miracle the town is resurrected again so that Tommy can join his true love.

The songs in Brigadoon are pleasant and familiar especially “Almost Like Being in Love, “ “The Heather on the Hill, “ and “Come to me, Bend to Me.”  So familiar in fact that an audience member seated behind me hummed along with many of the songs.  They were all wonderfully performed by some wonderful singers notably, Zach Stein as Tommy, Lyndsay Byers as Fiona, Thomas Deters as Charlie, and Alex Buchko as Jean.  The music director, Connie Tumminelli, is to be commended on getting the most out of these talented singers.  The dancing was also outstanding with some beautiful ballet sequences choreographed by Lise Higgins.  Of course one expects that the girl dancers will be quite good, but the male dancers were also outstanding especially the Sword Dance performed by Richard Smith, Simeon Abbey, and Tony McElrath.  It was a high point of the first act of the show as well as the Bonnie Jean Ballet performed by the entire company.

My only complaint about the dancing is that sometimes the stage was a little too crowded so that the dances looked a little less than outstanding.  Corn Stock’s stage is rather small to feature a cast that large and allow for dancing that stands out.  As I said earlier, the singing was excellent; however the sound system sometimes needed adjusting especially with the female singers who sometimes came across rather screechy and the feedback that sometimes marred the singing.  The sound problems seemed adjusted in the second act, and therefore hopefully they will be adjusted as the show’s run continues so that the audience will be treated to the marvelous singing of this talented cast.

The biggest problem with these conventional musicals is that everything happens so instantly that is doesn’t allow for any subtlety from the actors, and the actors in this show seem to have some trouble creating a believable story line.  They have not connected entirely emotionally to the material so that it seems hard to believe that these characters are truly in love.  The most believable actor in the ensemble is Richard Smith as the angry Harry Beaton who is by turns angry, frustrated, and disappointed in love.  The rest of the cast does a credible job with this conventional story line.

All in all though this was an enjoyable evening with great singing and dancing and this cast is quite strong in both departments.  So if you like old fashioned musicals with great songs, beautiful dancing, and a romantic story line then I am sure that you will really like this Oklahoma set in the Scottish highlands.

Brigadoon continues through Saturday, June 6 at 7:30 pm each night.  Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students aged 18 & under or $70 for a season ticket including all 5 summer shows and are available at the Corn Stock Box Office, by calling 309-676-2196 or online at www.CornStockTheatre.com

Posted on June 1, 2015