Brigadoon had its Broadway debut 67 years ago, but hasn’t been performed as a large-scale, professional American revival in more than three decades. Until it graced the stage of the intimate Goodman Theatre in previews during late June, the memories of Brigadoon - the mythical, pastoral 18th century Scottish Highlands village – have only been pleasant reminders of a time and place audiences would love to visit, if only for a day.
Being a first-timer who never saw the play or the well-known movie featuring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse, I was immediately entranced by the scenic outlines of the centuries-old village surrounded by the wisps of clouds designed by expert set designer Kevin Depinet. His artistic portrayal of various locales within Brigadoon set the stage to understand how the locales fervently desired to retain their idealistic values, romanticism and unique way of life, even if only for 24 hours every century when others might view it.
Basically, this tale describes two American 20th century gentlemen who, lost in the Highlands, find themselves that one day in Brigadoon, which oddly enough cannot be found on any maps. Tommy, who is engaged to be married, had cold feet and heart about his upcoming nuptials. Jeff, his handsome yet droll friend, is as astonished as Tommy is when they meet the local townspeople, who wear traditional Scottish clothing rather than 20th century garb. When they ask for a phone to call home, are met with stunned amusement and questions. They soon realize that this bustling town lives in the past, and the men must come to terms with this major complication.
Tommy finds time to fall madly in love with Fiona, a beautiful village maiden while Jeff is pursued everywhere by the town’s promiscuous and funny Meg Brockie. The question on the audience’s minds is: what will happen to these star-crossed lovers when the day ends and Brigadoon dissolves into the mountain mist for yet another century? Will Tommy stay or will he and Fiona part forever? The final and happy conclusion that theatre-goers will discover is that love need not be bound by time and place.
Alan Jay Lerner wrote the enthralling book and lyrics to the mesmerizing music of Frederick Loewe soon after war-weary Americans flocked to local theatres for entertainment after both the Depression and World War II. The revised book was written by Brian Hill. Wonderful songs like “Almost Like Being in Love,” “Brigadoon,” “The Heather on the Hill,” and “I’ll Go Home With Bonnie Jean,” (14 musical numbers in all) enhance the plot and engage the audience with their magical lyrics.
Under Chicago director and choreographer, Rachel Rockwell, the talented company of 28 actors, singers and dancers reinvigorate the enchanting tale. Costume designer Mara Blumenfeld brings the characters’ authenticity to appearance and detail with the magnificent array of Scottish outfits offset by Tommy and Jeff’s 20th century suits and casual wear as well as their 1946 Manhattan costumes during the finale.
Lighting designer Aaron Spivey and sound designer Garth Helm, joined by projection designer Shawn Sagady, set the magnificent stage scenery in its glory. The music Director is Roberta Duchak.
Every cast member must be applauded for his or her talents acting, singing and dancing through the show but we’ll call out a few of the leads: Kevin Earley (as Tommy Albright); Rob Thomas (as Jeff Douglas); Jennie Sophia (as Fiona); Maggie Portman (as Meg Brockie).
The show has been extended until August 17. The Goodman Theatre is located at 170 North Dearborn in Chicago. Tickets to Brigadoon range from $25 to $98 and are on sale at the Goodman or by phone at 312-443-3800.
Saturdays, Sundays and most Thursdays there are mainees at 2:00 pm; evening performances are at 7:30 pm except or Friday and Saturday performances at 8:00 pm.
Go see Brigadoon soon. Don’t wait another century – no pun intended!
170 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60601
For information and tickets go to the Goodman Theatre Website
Photos: Liz Lauren