BRIGADOON Appears Again at Newtown Arts Company

by Arlene Price Kohler

BRIGADOON is the tale of two American tourists who happen upon the mysterious Scottish village, Brigadoon, that appears for only one day every hundred years.  Lerner and Loewe had only moderate success with two of their previous productions and so, inspired by the success of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s production of OKLAHOMA! and of CAROUSEL, they created BRIGADOON.  Like the R&H masterpieces mentioned, BRIGADOON includes a serious romance and a much lighter comic sub-plot romance, a ballet number or two and some very memorable songs, most  notably “Almost Like Being in Love”.

The original production opened on Broadway in 1947 and had a very successful run of 581 performances.  Agnes DeMille did the choreography for this as well as two of the revivals.   A 1954 film version , which cut many of the songs starred Gene Kelly, Van Johnson and Cyd Charisse.  A 1966 TV version starring Robert Goulet, Peter Falk,  Sally Anne Howes and Marilyn Mason as Meg won 5 Emmys.  This version was only shown one more time in 1968 and the film was destroyed.   An amateur filmed it and if you are interested it can be seen here  It is a bit grainy so  better yet come  to the  oldest working movie theater in the country and see Newtown Arts Company’s production of BRIGADOON.

Newtown Arts Company is celebrating 30 years of stage productions. Last season they handed out ballots and let the audience select what show they would like to see to celebrate this occasion.  BRIGADOON, which was the group’s first musical in1983-1984 season, was chosen. This company got its start when, to celebrate Newtown’s 300th anniversary, a pageant was produced by Ezra Stone entitled Sweet Land.  When it was over the actors wanted to continue acting and the singers wanted to keep singing.  And so Newtown Arts Company was born to present theatrical and lively arts, as well as award over $100,000.00 in scholarships for performing and fine art students over the past three decades.   Nancy Pickering, a founding member,  produces the show.  Newtown Arts Company owes its continuing existence to Pickering’s dedication to this theater group. She deserves thanks as well as a big round of applause.

Under the direction of Mary Liz Ivens, who has worked many times with NAC,   the town of Brigadoon comes alive.  As the curtain opens we hear the  lovely vocals of the chorus under the direction of Susan den Outer. The set is clever and has two hills and a distant mountain which is backlit in different colors during the show–a nice effect.  The role of Fiona is double cast and tonight it was Carly Price delighting us with her beautiful vocals and her gentle stage presence. Her rendition of “Waitin’ for My Dearie” was especially lovely.  Her love interest, the American Tommy Albright is played by Joe Cutalo, with just the right amount of Gene Kelly’s smooth nature.  They both possess good acting skills and make a believable couple on stage.  Amelia Arrrigo as Meg and Wren Workman as Jeff Douglas both give strong performances as the comedic love interest.  I especially enjoyed Arrrigo singing ” Real Love of my Life” and  “My Mother’s Wedding Day” as well as her portrayal of the zesty Meg,  and then the complete change as Frankie, the barmaid.  Wren Workman was just so much fun to watch; great comedic timing.  Melanie Eyth as Fiona’s sister, the bride, Jean, performs the ballet number “Come to Me, Bend to Me” with such beauty and grace that with the addition of Micheal Geary’s singing it is sheer magic. The wonderful choreography by Joyce Rubinsohn is evident here as well as in the funeral number, danced so beautifully by Morgan Ford Workman as Maggie Anderson. Also notable are the sword dance and dancers  John Wishnie, Justin Derry, who has a fine voice also and Jeremy Alan Hay.   Joseph Stockette as Stuart Dalyrymple also has a fine voice.  Also worth noting is Colby Langweiler’s performance as Tommy’s fiance, Jane Ashton.  Her pantomime in the New York bar is just ‘marvelous darling’—very, very  entertaining.  And thanks to the Susan den Outer, Mike Detra, Mike McGarry and Sam D’Aversa for the fine music.

The blending of music and dancing in BRIGADOON  entwines nicely to create an aura of enchantment. The only flaw in tonight’s performance is one that is all too evident in most local theater productions and that is the dreaded scene change.  The audience is flowing along in magic and beguiling music and BOOM is 2013.    Just a suggestion, but perhaps it would be better to draw the curtain, play some music, have some townspeople move across the stage in front of the curtain so we stay in the moment and maybe do away with that clumsy and heavy door thing used in “Bend to Me” in favor of something more abstract and simple.

Well, come and enjoy! Final performance is Wednesday, December 11th at 7:30pm. All seats are reserved and be purchased on-line at or by calling 1-800-838-3006.

December 5 – 11, 2013
Newtown Arts Company
at Newtown Theater
120 North State Street
Newtown PA,18940

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