Theater Review: ‘Brigadoon’ comes to life at Munopco
It’s a delightful romp through the heather in Munopco Music Theatre’s production of “Brigadoon,” the Tony-Award-winning musical about the Scottish village that comes to life only one day every 100 years.
The musical continues at 8 p.m. Sept. 28 and 29, Scottish Rite Cathedral, Allentown. The Sept. 21 opening night performance was seen for this review.
The show, directed by Rodey Gilkeson, whose musical directing skills are well-known to Pennsylvania Playhouse audiences, is filled with exuberant dancing and marvelous singing that make the most of the delightful book and score by Lerner and Loewe. Who can resist humming at least one of the classic songs: “Come to Me, Bend to Me,” “The Heather on the Hill” or “Almost Like Being in Love”?
The romantic leads are the outsider Tommy Albright (Robert Clausnitzer) and villager Fiona (Elizabeth Marsh-Gilkeson). Clausnitzer provides just the right balance in his portrayal of the conflicted lover torn between what his heart wants and what his reason is telling him. It doesn’t hurt that he also has a splendid singing voice.
Marsh-Gilkeson earned a “Wow!’ response when she began singing “Waitin’ for My Dearie,” accompanied by an ensemble of young women with sweet voices.
Fiona and Tommy work well as a couple, but at the risk of being a curmudgeon, it should be mentioned that their blocking during most of their musical numbers together is far too static. Too often they are facing each other at a distance, with their profiles to the audience.
Tommy’s cynical friend Jeff is played exceedingly well by Brett Oliveira, who is usually a creative technical force behind the scenes, providing lighting and set designs for community theaters in the Lehigh Valley. He should be seen on stage more often.
Jeff meets his match with Meg, the enticing villager well-played by Jessica Weber, whose whimsical efforts to get her man add another entertaining dimension to the plot.
Christian Clausnitzer is dreamy as the bridegroom Charlie. When he sings “Come to Me, Bend to Me,” it’s easy to see why Jean chose to marry him instead of the dispirited Harry. He scores again in the rousing ensemble number, “Go Home to Bonnie Jean,” showcasing his strong singing voice.
As the bride Jean, Lizzy Boehm is beautiful and charming. Her ballet is a lovely respite, ushering in the joyous wedding ceremony at the end of Act One, and the tragedy to follow.
Nikola Georgievski is so convincing as Harry, the unrequited suitor, that it’s easy to feel sorry for his character. Robert Calder is great as the storyteller who reveals the secret of Brigadoon.
Choreographer Joey Schubert does a splendid job of spearheading the dance numbers and keeping up the tempo, while costumer Mary Catherine Bracali provides needed color and authenticity in dressing the actors with everything, including Scottish tartans and men in kilts.
Set designs by Oliveira and Kristen Wettstein make effective use of painted backdrops that provide a sense of depth in outdoor scenes, and help fill the spaces on the massive stage.
Despite some easily remedied opening night technical glitches, there’s creative use of scrim backlighting, especially in the bar scene where Tommy keeps remembering Fiona.
Tickets: Scottish Rite Cathedral box office, 1533 Hamilton St. Allentown; munopco.org/tickets; 610-437-2441