Monday, July 25, 2005

Review - Catch Foothill's delightful 'Brigadoon' before it fades away

Inside Bay Area - Bay Area Living

N TERMS of musical theater history, Lerner and Loewe's first Broadway success, the 1947 "Brigadoon," doesn't rate too high. But in the hands of director Jay Manley and his Foothill Music Theatre, it is a fun revival of a sugar-sweet fantasy love story.

A lot of this is because of the supercharged choreography by Tyler Risk and the talented dancers who execute it. Add to this an inspired casting of singing actors and the show that opened last weekend at the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills is another Jay Manley winner.

The plot is taken from an old German fantasy about a village that falls under a spell and comes to life only one day every 100 years. Two New Yorkers happen to blunder onto the scene at the most recent appearance of the village.

The culture and the clothing (costume design by Janis Bergmann) have not changed in the intervening centuries and Tommy Albright (Tim Reynolds) and Jeff Douglas (Ray Renati) soon realize they are in a time out of joint.

Of course, complications set in: Tommy falls madly in love with Fiona MacLaren (Michele C. Johnston), whose sister Jean (Lisa Schwebke) is being married that very day to dashing Charlie Dalrymple.

Meanwhile, Meg Brockie (Karen DeHart) has set her cap for Jeff and Jean's ex-boyfriend Harry Beaton (Steve Edlund) is jealously threatening to leave the village and, thereby, destroy the magic charm that keeps it suspended in time.

Of course, Tommy is faced with a dilemma or there wouldn't be a play. Should he remain in this neverland throughout eternity with the greatest love of his life or return to his fiance and the modern day world of New York City? Come to Foothill College and find out.

This is the fantasy upon which is hung some great Scottish dance steps and memorable tunes such as "Heather on the Hill," "Come to Me, Bend to Me," the catchy "My Mother's Weddin' Day," the beautiful "There But For You Go I" and the immortal "Almost Like Being in Love."

There is excellent singing in this show. As the two lovers, Johnston has a beautifully lyrical musical theater voice that is very well matched by a powerful Reynolds. And DeHart is impossibly cute as irrepressible Meg Brockie.

Matthew Brandon Hutchens, as the macho bridegroom Charlie Dalrymple, has matured from his enthusiastic teenage chorus dancing days to a level of acting and singing that, combined with his athletic dancing, lights up the stage whenever he appears. We may some day be saying, "We knew him when..."

John Musgrave, as the highly respected village elder Mr. Lundie, reinforces my opinion that he is among the most professional of the Bay Area's character actors, with an astonishing range of stage personalities.

"Brigadoon" doesn't come around too often, so this is your chance to catch it while you can.

Keith Kreitman is a freelance writer. You can reach him by calling (650) 348-4327 or by e-mail at

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