Before My Fair Lady, before Gigi and Paint Your Wagon and Camelot, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe had their first big Broadway hit in 1947 with Brigadoon. Thrice revived since then on the Great White Way, Brigadoon has gone on to become a regional theater favorite, and though it will never eclipse Lerner & Loewe’s masterpiece (you know which one that is), it does have its own old-fashioned charms as well as songs like “Almost Like Being in Love” that have gone on to become standards.

Brigadoon’s latest regional revival has recently opened at FCLO Music Theatre, in a production sturdily directed by Jan Duncan, with Karen Nowicki’s sparkling choreography and an all-around terrific cast making for an entertaining evening of musical theater.

For those out there who’ve never seen it, Brigadoon gets its title from a mysterious Scottish village that (according to legend) appears in our world only one day every hundred years before disappearing once again into the mist for another century. However, should a resident leave Brigadoon for any reason, the village and all its inhabitants will vanish forever. Into this magical place stumble two American tourists, Tommy Albright and Jeff Douglas, lost in the Scottish Highlands. Tommy falls in love at first sight with town beauty Fiona MacLaren while Jeff gives town wench Meg Brockie a tumble.  Almost all of Brigadoon’s action takes place on a single day, the day of Fiona’s sister Jean’s wedding to Charlie Dalrymple. Unfortunately for the betrothed couple, Harry Beaton, Jean’s jealous ex, is not about to take Jean’s wedding lying down, even if it means escaping the confines of Brigadoon and thus destroying Jean, her family, her friends, and indeed the entire village forever.

FCLO’s production features an (almost unheard of these days) cast of forty, headed by a quartet of Equity performers—Robert Patteri as Tommy, Jennifer Mathews as Fiona, James Michael Lambert as Charlie, and John Williford as Harry.

Not surprisingly, all four shine.  Patteri makes for a fine, resonant-voiced romantic lead, Matthews is an enchanting Fiona with a crystal clear soprano, Lambert does engaging work in a role which provides a terrific showcase for all three of his triple threats; and dance captain Williford is not surprisingly one heck of a dancer as Harry.

Also appearing in lead role are Ted Leib, getting many laughs out of Jeff’s frequent sarcastic digs; Katharine M. Larsen, a saucy treat as Meg; and Mallory Cooney King, a captivating, graceful Jean.

Town elders are represented in fine form by Daniel Halkyard (Mr. Lundie), Ron Peterson (Andrew MacLaren), Bruce Schechter (Archie Beaton), and David Booth (Sandy Dean).  Tiffany Renee Reid is a dance standout as Maggie. Jeff Cullen plays some mean bagpipes as the town piper. Lending strong support are Bryan Vickery as MacGregor, Jim Robuck as MacMillan, Chris Caron as Frank, and Ginger Hart as Tommy’s justifiably impatient fiancée Jane.

Ably completing the huge supporting cast are Jessica Nicole Apperson, Jebbel Arce, Nathan Armstrong, Zsolt Banki, Abby Bolin, Shannon O’Brien Cooper, Beatrice Crosbie, Mary Lauren, Chester Lockhart, Patrick Loyd, Jacob Mattison, Katie McConaughy, Sarah Meals, Deanna Ott, Robert M. Parkinson, Kim Peterson, Jonas Edwin Sills, Victoria Spero, Matt Takahashi, and Katy Tang.  Appearing in the opening scenes before heading home for bedtime are adorable child actors Lauren Deslolge, Luke Desmond, Mary Desmond, and Shea Hudson Durazzo.

Occasional attempts to situate Tommy and Jeff’s present in 2010 (a cell phone, references to Mapquest and Lady Gaga) seem out of place in a musical with as old-fashioned a sensibility as Brigadoon, but they are the the production’s only missteps.

Musical director/conductor Lee Kreter and the 17-piece FCLO orchestra do impeccable work, as always.  Christina L. Munich’s lighting, Edith Melcher’s costumes, and Ed Gallagher’s sets make the Brigadoon one of the most Technicolorful FCLO productions ever.  As always, sound designer A.J.Gonzalez does his best with Plummer Auditorium sound system.  Also deserving credit for this production are Ambra King Wakefield (additional costume and coordinator), Donna R. Parsons (production stage manager), and Terry Hanrahan (property/set decorator).

Ultimately, Brigadoon gains its power from its faith in true love. Though Tommy and Fiona’s heartbreaking farewell song, “From This Day On,” generates tears and applause in equal measure, audience members need not fear. To paraphrase an old saying, “It ain’t over till the villagers sing the title song one last time.”

FCLO Music Theatre, Plummer Auditorium, 210 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton.

–Steven Stanley
May 13, 2010
Photos: Kurt Jarrard

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