Lyricist/author Alan Jay Lerner was married eight times in his 67 years, perhaps an indication that he was either a true romantic or a cynic. Interestingly, the two male lead characters in “Brigadoon,” now in a joyous production at the Mac-Haydn Theatre, reflect both kinds of attitudes about love.
And the excellent actors playing Tommy Albright (James Benjamin Rodgers) and Jeff Douglas (Lars Lee) nail these complementary characters. Appropriately, the big-voiced baritone Rodgers gets a couple of memorable tunes (the music is by Frederick Loewe), like “Almost Like Being in Love” and “There But for You Go I.” Lee earns yuks with his drop-dead delivery of droll ripostes.
The story is a charmer. On a hunting trip, Americans Albright and Douglas find themselves lost in the highlands of Scotland. Suddenly, they hear a chorus, which leads them to a little village called Brigadoon. There’s trouble in Brigadoon: Harry Beaton (Parker Krug) loves Jean MacLaren (Heather Siemienas), but she’s about to be married to Charlie Dalrymple (Andrew McMath). Harry glowers and threatens, ignoring the pleas of his father (Derrick Jacques).
WHERE: Mac-Haydn Theatre, 1925 State Route 203, Chatham
WHEN: through July 1
HOW MUCH: Adults: $30-$28; children 12 and under: $12
MORE INFO: 392-9292, www.machaydntheatre.org
Soon Albright finds himself smitten with Jean’s sister, Fiona (Caitlin Fischer), his engagement to Jane Ashton (Jill Christine, in a vivid cameo) back in New York City notwithstanding. Fiona, too, is falling in love, but there’s one hitch: Brigadoon has a secret, explained in Act 1 by Mr. Lundie (Rasheem Ford), and this secret threatens to prevent the marriage of Tommy and Fiona. I’ll say no more except that the show is not a tragedy, so you can imagine how the play ends.
The script is a satisfying blend of big song-and-dance numbers — like the one following “I’ll Go Home With Bonnie Jean” (a special nod to Mario Castro for his solo work throughout) — and intimate moments.
Director Rob Richardson, an MHT veteran, has firm control of the scenes’ various moods. And, by the way, the cast pulls off credible Scottish accents. Kudos to choreographer Mario Martinez, who knows his highland fling and who has also given the gifted Kelsey Stalter a poignant dance in Act 2.
Tucked away in the corner is musical director/keyboardist Josh D. Smith, ably assisted by Andrew Kreigh and Joshua Endlich. But the synchronization with the performers is tight.
A special mention to sound designer Luke Krauss. In a few scenes (the forest, the bar), the ambient noises bring the locale to life. And Dale DiBernardo’s costumes aptly evoke 1940s New York and timeless Brigadoon.
At Thursday’s matinee opening the miking was a little iffy; unfortunately, Lauren French, who sparkles as oversexed Meg, couldn’t be heard in “My Mother’s Wedding Day,” though she was satisfactorily amplified in the comic “The Love of My Life.”
Krug is a fine actor, shading his delivery and dancing with a contempt that springs from a broken, youthful heart. Charlie is like a fairy-tale counterpart to Albright; as such, he gets two well-known melodies, “I’ll Go Home With Bonnie Jean” and “Come to Me, Bend to Me,” both just right for McMath’s ringing tenor.
Fischer and Rodgers movingly pace the growth of Fiona and Tommy’s love. They know that the words under the pretty tunes mean something, and each, with an operatic voice of great range, mines the text for the nuances. Rodgers, for example, makes “Almost Like Being in Love” the interior monologue it is, as if Tommy is discovering what is happening to him on the spot. These are fully realized performances: dramatic, musical, and physical.
One of the great pleasures of going to Mac-Haydn (and the Cohoes Music Hall) is seeing the abundance of well-trained and passionate young performers being turned out by conservatories and universities across the country. There are a number of new faces at MHT this season. Get acquainted with them.