Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Brigadoon Gala Concert

I am grateful to Brian Lipton for taking me to the Irish Rep’s fundraising gala concert version of Brigadoon last night at the Shubert Theatre. It was so good to enter again that enchanting world of the wee Scottish village that comes to life only once every hundred years, and to savor those beautiful Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe songs that are among the most lovely tunes ever written for the theatre.

The magic began outside as bagpiper Jack Nisbet serenaded us as we gathered on West 44th Street. Once we had settled in our seats and hosts Matthew Broderick and Jonathan Cake had finished their not particulary entertaining opening chitchat, Nisbet returned, coming from the back of the theatre and leading the 40-member chorus onto the stage.

Melissa Errico (in photo) as Fiona lit up the stage with her radiance and that exquisite voice, especially in her show-stopping duet with Jason Danieley (Tommy) of “Almost Like Bein’ in Love.” The electric shock from that one alone was megawatt and the audience loved it.

The musical’s long book was shortened nicely. I didn’t ask the time when it was over -- I was floating too high to think about time -- but I’d say the lenght was about 90 minutes. The Irish Rep's artistic director, Charlotte Moore, directed.

Errico, who appeared in the Irish Rep's recent production of Candida, was joined, in addition to Danieley, by Don Stephenson (Jeff Douglas), Ciaran Sheehan (Harry Beaton), Christine Ebersole (Meg Brockie), Gordon Stanley (Archie Beaton), Jim Brochu (Andrew McLaren), Bonnie Fraser (Jean McLaren), Christopher Lynn (Angus McGuffie), A.J. Shively (Charlie Dalrymple), Len Cariou (Mr. Lundie), Kerry Conte (Jane Ashton) and dancers Karl Maier and Morgan McEwen.

Their voices, backed by a 20-piece orchestra, are still with me, filling my heart with “I’ll Go Home with Bonnie Jean,” “The Heather on the Hill,” “Come to Me, Bend to Me” and “There But for You Go I.”

Brigadoon, which was inspired by a European legend, opened on Broadway in 1947. It’s a fantasy story of two American men who stumble upon this mysterious village while hunting in Scotland during the one day it will appear before vanishing for another century. When one of them, Tommy, falls in love with Fiona, he must make the choice of whether to return to his life in New York or stay with his beloved and vanish with the rest of them when the day is over.

It’s a charming story, with such rich music, I wish it would be done again on Broadway. A revival with a revised libretto had been announced, with Rob Ashford to direct, but those plans have been dropped. I saw an excellent full staging by the Blue Hill Troupe in the fall Off-Broadway and thought then how right a new production on the Great White Way would be. Maybe some visionary producers were in the audience last night and will get the ball rolling. They can count on me to be in the audience!

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