By Barry Reszel
While it may be the subject of some debate, at least two sources confirm leprechauns to be of Scottish descent (See point 2 here and/or this article from an esteemed publication of Yale University).
Which is good enough for one reviewer to declare The Goodman Theatre’s summer production of Scotland-based Brigadoon magically delicious. Chicagoland musical theatre patrons lucky enough to hold a ticket for this exquisite show before it disappears on Aug. 18 should thank their lucky charms…er, stars.
An uber-talented, highly-energetic cast of 28 gracefully take their audience through Alan Lerner and Frederick Loewe‘s whimsical masterpiece of two American hunters coming upon a mystical village in the Scottish Highlands that appears but one day every 100 years. A full plot summary and show history may be read here.
Goodman’s 2014 Brigadoon is an authorized update by the Lerner estate, which allowed writer Brian Hill and Director/Choreographer Rachel Rockwell to refresh the libretto in an attempt to make this 1947 musical more contemporary. Like most things Rockwell touches, the result is a pot of gold.
Exemplary vocals under the direction of Roberta Duchak show off Kevin Depinet’s lush set and Mara Blumenfeld‘s gorgeous costuming in a first-rate production of a classic musical. It’s every bit as enchanting as Lyric Opera of Chicago’s late spring/early summer production of The Sound of Music (A review of that production may be read here); Chicago is no “second” city for musical theatre patrons this summer.
Leads Kevin Earley as Tommy Albright and love interest Fiona MacLaren (Jennie Sophia) light the stage with authenticity in their acting and stunning vocals. Of the rich songbook, classics “Almost Like Being in Love” and “The Heather on the Hill” are jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Sophia’s “From This Day On” seals her Fiona as this actress’ signature role (and she has many).
As an ensemble, “I’ll Go Home With Bonnie Jean” and “Down in MacConnachy Square” are particularly, wonderfully memorable.
If there’s a unmet wish for this production, it’s that the village set would make more use of the ample vertical space. With a no-expenses-spared cast of nearly 30, Goodman’s stage at times feels a bit crowded; that would be lessened with multiple levels in a room where set designers are typically no-holds-barred.
As for the Brigadoon natives themselves, they are a host of other-stage leads, clad in tartan, providing professional richness of sight and sound. The men include Larry Adams, William Carlos Angulo, Jordan Brown, Bryan Howard Conner, Joseph Anthony Foronda, Rhett Guter, George Keating, Michael Aaron Lindner, Jamy Meek, Roger Mueller, Drew Nellessen, Rob Riddle, Craig Spidle, Malachi Squires, Richard Rimer and Rod Thomas (as co-hunter Jeff Douglas). The women are Stephanie Binetti, Jessica Blair, Courtney Cerny, Tehran Dixon, Ann McMann, Maggie Portman, Olivia Renteria (with an “Oh My God” ballet sequence), Emily Rohm, Emma Rosenthal and Katie Spelman.
This production has audience members remember or believe that “when you love deeply enough, anything is possible…even miracles.”
Magically delicious, indeed.
“Brigadoon” runs Wed. through Sun. (and Tue. 7/22 and 29) evenings until August 17. Matinees are on Thurs., Sat. and Sun. All performances at The Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn Ave., Chicago. Information and tickets ($25 – $105) are available at www.goodmantheatre.org or by phone at (312) 443-3800.