August Onstage / Brigadoon
Shaw and Simon provide lighthearted options for midsummer theatergoers
Matt Nethersole as Charlie Dalrymple and Madelyn Kriese as Jean MacLaren in Brigadoon
Photo by David Cooper
Through October 13
at Shaw Festival Theatre
10 Queen’s Parade, Niagara-on-the-Lake.
When the lights dim and the Brigadoon title screen gives way to a misty forest complete with a grazing animal (deer? moose? not sure) in Shaw’s Festival Theatre, you might feel you’re not in Canada anymore. And you’re right. This is mid-twentieth century Scotland, and the mysterious Brigadoon, which only appears for one day once every hundred years, is about to emerge, quite literally, from the mist. You’re transported to this magical place where Scottish brogues and kilts abound, but also to the Golden Age of musicals, where lifelong (and in this case, drastically life-altering) romance is built in a day, glorious ballads and high energy dance numbers reign supreme, and thin plots (which still manage to have holes) leave contemporary audiences wanting. Even Brian Hill’s updated book doesn’t do enough to make this musical emotionally satisfying, but if you’re there for the song and dance, you’re good to go.
Tommy (George Krissa, in his first season at Shaw) is on his bachelor’s getaway to Scotland, and he’s lost. His prenuptial problems are evident, so he’s primed for a fateful encounter with Fiona as he and pal Jeff (Mike Nadajewski) stumble upon Brigadoon, where nothing has changed since 1746.
Travis Seetoo as Harry Beaton with Stewart Adam McKensy, David Ball and the cast of Brigadoon
PHOTO BY EMILY COOPER
The town celebrates and prepares for the marriage of Fiona’s sister Jean (Madelyn Kriese) to Charlie (Matt Nethersole), despite the protests (which are never provided context or backstory) of a jealous Harry Beaton (Travis Seetoo). Given Tommy’s despair and Fiona’s lack of eligible bachelors in her isolated town, you can guess what happens next—and how fast; after all, they only have a day. Though the story is lacking, Krissa and Gordon’s voices soar through Lerner and Loewe’s score.
Fine performances come from Seetoo as the anguished Harry Beaton, and Nethersole as the lovestruck Charlie. Patty Jamieson is both humorous and reassuring as the wise school mistress Lundy—previously a mister, so this is a welcome update—who explains Brigadoon’s magical history.
Though full of cliches, Brigadoon offers a story of hope, miracles, and a reminder that, if you love deeply enough, anything is possible. And who couldn’t use that?