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Home Arts and Culture  'Brigadoon' hits music, misses drama
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Wednesday, September 15,2010

'Brigadoon' hits music, misses drama

by Paul Wozniak
What if they built a condo on the plot of land where the magical town of Brigadoon appears from the mist for only one day every 100 years? Would the villagers wake up to urban sprawl? Thankfully, in a sense, “Brigadoon” creators Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe were not concerned with logical, real-world possibilities. They wrote this fantasy romance escapist musical for the faithful who believe that with love, literally anything is possible, even miracles.

The Holt/Dimondale Community Players are a part of that faithful flock, but their “Brigadoon” keeps the faith only in song, not in drama.


Director Kirsten Gonzales understands the importance of making the songs sound polished. Under the enthusiastic guidance of music director Tony Zappa, the entire cast blends beautifully, giving the timeless songs a full, rich texture. There are no weak singers or actors.


But Gonzales shows little interest in creating intriguing stage pictures or pushing her actors to create believable chemistry. There is almost no dramatic direction, leaving a disconnect between the song lyrics and their actual meaning.


A case in point is the relationship between the American lad from the present, Tommy Albright, played by Chris Ordiway, and Scottish lassie from the past, Fiona MacClaren, played by Natalie Downs. The script and songs tell the audience that these two characters are slowly falling in love, but neither Downs’s expressive face and gorgeous voice nor Ordiway’s constantly solemn gaze convey a hint that they might like each other.
They don’t help matters by playing so many of their lines to the
audience that one wonders if they are even talking or listening to each
other.

Albright’s incredulous, wisecracking friend, Jeff Douglas, played with natural ease by Kurk Prater, fares slightly better. Maybe that’s because he never has to show interest in the town floozie, Meg Brockie, played by Rachel Dalton. Dalton plays Meg with an appropriate (see ‘tame’) amount of sultry tease during her suggestively coded number, “The Love of My Life,” but even with a microphone, she is completely overpowered by the orchestra.

Dave Sincox, Charlie Ogar, and Michael Diebold all show stoic strength in their patriarchal characters, while Evan Snyder plays the emoesque Charlie Dalrymple with an appropriate amount of brooding moodiness. Another highlight is the “Come To Me, Bend To Me” ballet choreographed by Veronica Diebold, which shows off the classical talents of the female dancers.


One of the show’s most distracting elements is the intermittent drops in volume caused by personal microphones not being turned on in time. Budget constraints understandably prevent the entire cast from being amplified, but the sporadic inconsistency of the vocal volume pulls the audience out of the story.


Those close to the production will not mind these flaws, as the joy of watching a loved one can overcome even the most glaring of errors, but strong songs alone do not make a musical. Love can still conquer all, but it must be seen to be believed.




‘Brigadoon’


Holt/Dimondale Community Players. 7 p.m. Sept. 16-18, 1 p.m. Sept. 18. $7-$10. (517) 694-3411. www.hdcptheater.com

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