REVIEW: 'Brigadoon'

Posted by Steve Warta on September 13, 2013 

Note: The following was submitted as a "You Be the Critic" review. 

Be prepared to dive into a world of Scottish burrs and kilts as you watch Valley Performing Arts’ (VPA) Season 38 Opener, "Brigadoon."  With a slight twist on the old classic, VPA’s "Brigadoon" is a humorous romance. Although already good, because the play is a musical, it has classic songs such as “Almost like Being in Love,” which make the play even more enjoyable to a wider range of audiences.

Experienced Director, Grant Olson, skillfully leads his 28-person cast into the Scottish fantasy. The play starts in the Scottish Highlands where two friends, Tommy Albright (Austin Roach) and Jeff Douglas (D. J. Rotach), are lost. The men are from modern day America and they happen across the village of Brigadoon, which turns out to be lost in the 1700s and only appears once every 100 years. The friends wander into the village and meet up with the townsfolk. Fiona MacLaren (Sara Shipp) is immediately attracted to Tommy, and with that the romance begins, along with a humorous side romance between Meg Brockie (Chantel Grover) and an unwilling Jeff.

The play proceeds smoothly with the right amount of humor thrown in to keep the audience engaged. The scene transitions are fairly smooth and the orchestra creates engaging music, helping bridge the scene changes. Director Olson uses some neat tools in the production, like a fog machine and a scrim.  Neither of these is used very often, but they greatly enhance the play and make it even more authentic and interesting, adding to the mood of the play.  In addition to the excellent orchestra, a bagpiper (Jim Walker) graces the play, further sinking the audience into the life and music of a Scottish village. The costumes are well designed and the set is superb. Choreographer Miranda Harris does a good job in synchronizing the performance.  The only problem with the play is that some of the songs are hard to understand because of quiet actors and prevalent Scottish burrs; however, this problem is sure to resolve itself as the showing progresses.

The lead actors perform well. D. J. Rotach performs exceptionally as Jeff Douglas, keeping the play humorous with both his lines and antics. Although she does not have parts designed for humor, Shipp plays her part superbly, exhibiting excellent acting and a superb voice that does justice to the musical’s songs. Roach and Grover are able to keep up with Rotach and Shipp, rounding out the cast and making the play a success.

"Brigadoon" runs through October 6, playing at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays at the Fred and Sara Machentanz Theatre, 251 W. Swanson Ave., in Wasilla. Tickets may be purchased online at www.valleypreformingarts.org or by calling 907-373-0195. They cost $19 for adults and $17 for students and seniors.

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