Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s “Brigadoon” is among the treasures created during the Golden Age of the American musical. Debuting on Broadway in 1947, the show has had several major revivals, tours and international productions, plus countless stagings by regional, school and community theaters.
Boca Raton’s Wick Theatre is the latest South Florida company to summon the wee Scottish village of Brigadoon back from its magical slumber.
As Lerner’s book has it, a spell makes the little Highlands town and its residents vanish, allowing the place and the people to return for a single day every 100 years. For the folks in Brigadoon, it’s as if a single day has passed. For the vast outside world, that “day” equals a century.
Propelled by Lerner and Loewe’s lush, romantic score, “Brigadoon” has fascinated audiences for more than 70 years, in part because of its fairy-tale juxtaposition of the simplicity of life in a 200-year-old village against the frantic stresses of the modern world. The timeless aspects of human experience — love, lust, jealousy, indecision, tragedy — have also made “Brigadoon” resonate with audiences of many generations.
Staged by Jeffrey B. Moss and choreographed with exultant beauty by Lindsay Bell, the Wick’s “Brigadoon” delivers most, if not all, of the musical’s magic. Although there are plenty of emotional bright spots in the show, Randel Wright’s set, Kirk Bookman’s lighting and Josieu Jean’s projections conjure an often dark “Brigadoon.”
When two present-day American hunters, Jeff Douglas (Wayne LeGette) and Tommy Albright (Matthew Taylor), go shooting in the Scottish Highlands and stumble upon Brigadoon, Jeff eventually argues that their find is a hallucination or dream. But as rendered at the Wick, the village has a brooding quality that can also be nightmarish.
Tommy, engaged but not quite thrilled about it, quickly falls under the spell of Brigadoon and one of its loveliest women, Fiona MacLaren (Lauren Weinberg). Meg’s younger sister Jean (Alexandra Van Hasselt) is getting married to her beloved Charlie Dalrymple (Adam Machart), much to the seething jealousy of Harry Beaton (Christopher Brand), whose love for Jean is very much unrequited.
Until Tommy appears, Meg has never found the fella who could capture her heart. Her quirky pal Meg Brockie (Mychal Phillips) has given love many a go without success, so she decides to try again with Jeff, who has less than no interest.
“Brigadoon” explores nothing less than life and death, love and faith. It does so through Lerner and Loewe songs that range from rousing (“I’ll Go Home With Bonnie Jean”) to giddy (“The Heather on the Hill”) to flat-out gorgeous (“Come to Me, Bend to Me,” “Almost Like Being in Love,” “There but for You Go I”).
Under Caryl Fantel’s musical direction, the large cast sings to lush tracks. When everyone is singing together, the sound is glorious. Certain solo snippets in those group numbers are less impressive.
As for the leads, Weinberg, who made such an impression as Adelaide in the Wick’s “Guys and Dolls” and Ilona in “She Loves Me,” here turns her crystalline soprano to playing the lovely Fiona. Being instantly smitten, as Fiona must given that another century of hibernation is fast approaching, is never easy though often required in classic musicals. Weinberg pulls it off convincingly.
As Tommy, on the other hand, Taylor goes far over the top as he’s trying to convey a modern guy who has found true love with a woman born a couple of centuries earlier. The actor’s singing voice is at times robust, at other times oddly constrained, but the way he plays Tommy registers as an actor pushing way too hard.
LeGette is amusingly cynical as Jeff and funny as he sleepily resists Phillips’ chatty, bawdy Meg. Van Hasselt and Marchant are, vocally and in their wedding attire, a dream couple as Jean and Charlie.
Brand’s striking Harry, who does an impressive sword dance with several other men after the wedding, would be at the top of the list if there were an early 19th century version of the #MeToo movement. Even so, he inspires unrequited love in Elizabeth Troxler’s Maggie, whose funeral dance is a tragically eloquent expression of heartbroken loss.
Oscar Cheda, Troy J. Stanley, Ben Prayz and Peter Librach (whose injury during the opening-night performance forced a quick reworking of the funeral scene) play the village’s older generation. Ashley Rubin, Brianna Barnes, Kevin Paul Clark, Michael J. Clark, A.J. Cola, Steven Del Col, Will Geoghegan, Whitney Grace, Lindsey Johr, Caroline Lambert, Hugo Moreno and Daniella Tamasi bring a celebratory energy to their vocals and dancing in smaller roles and ensemble parts.
Much of the look and feel of the Highlands comes from Derek Lockwood’s costumes, particularly through the use of clan tartans and the lace-up Scottish dancing shoes known as ghillies.
In its style and structure, “Brigadoon” is vintage musical theater. People who seek out newer shows such as “Hamilton” or “Dear Evan Hansen” would doubtless find “Brigadoon” old-fashioned, its Golden Age luster diminished. But the Wick’s production conveys enough of the musical’s charms to please those open to its spell.
“Brigadoon” is running through April 8 at the Wick Theatre, 7901 N. Federal Highway, in Boca Raton. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday and Saturday-Sunday. Tickets cost $80-$85. To order, call 561-995-2333 or go to TheWick.org.