Broadway's glorious idea; Brigadoon Musical with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe. Directed by Vivian Matalon. Choreography and musical staging by Agnes de Mille. Starring Martin Vidnovic, Meg Bussert, John Curry.
New York — Like the world weary hero of the Lerner- Loewe musical fantasy, Broadway has come back to "Brigadoon." What a splendid idea! What a gorgeous, glorious show! According to Alan Jay Lerner, who wrote the book and lyrics, and magnificent new production at the Majestic Theater is the first Broadway revival of the work which he and composer Frederick Loewe captivated the town in 1947 and established themselves at once as future masters of the American musical.
Like other notable musicals in the "Oklahoma!" tradition, "Brigadoon" has survived its time because it abounds in the timeless elements of true lyric theater -- melting songs and beautiful movement. From the first haunting measures by an off-stage chorus, the spectator knows that the evening will be abloom with melody, like the heather on the hill that Tommy and Fiona sing about. With stalwart Martin Vidnovic and lovely Meg Bussert in the leading roles, the Wolf Trap production is worthy of the Scottish miracle the story celebrates.
Numbers like "Almost Like Being in Love," "Waitin' for My Dearie," "I'll Go Home with Bonnie Jean," "The Love of My Life," and "Come to Me, Bend to Me" work their magic today as surely they did more than 30 yaers ago. The opening-night audience responded rapturously to the Lerner- Loewe mix of romantic and comic numbers. As so often happens with familiar favorites, applause at times began as a song started. The fresh vocal arrangements and musical direction are by Wally Harper.
The tale of a highlands village that comes to life every hundred years is unfolded as much through movement as through song and libretto. Once more, the Agnes de Mille dances -- and dancers -- prove equal to every occasion. From reels and flings to gentle ballets and the excitements of the second-act sword-dance and chase, "Brigadoon" is a flow of graceful and exciting choreography. John Curry, the former Olympic figure-skating champion, is splendidly athletic as the brooding Harry Beaton and Marina Eglevsky's solo funeral dance as the bereft Maggie Anderson highlights her fine performance.
"Brigadoon" gets into action with the lively "Down on MacConnachy Square," which introduces the centennially bustling highlanders. Up to this point, Vivian Matalon's staging seemed a bit to much in the operetta vein. But as the tale of the two holidaying Americans (Mr. Vidnovic and Mark Zimmerman) took hold , the make-believe of this musical fantasy became more believable.
Not surprisingly, the elaborately complex scenery for "Brigadoon" required two designers, Michael J. Hotopp and Paul de Pass, both of whom have done their work well. Stanley Simmons had dressed the Brigadooners in all manner of plaids and tartans and 18th-century finery. Thomas Skelton's lighting blazes or shimmers darkly, as occasion requires. "Brigadoon" is still a bountiful and bonnie entertainment.