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Theater review: An enchanting adventure to 'Brigadoon'

Published: Tuesday, July 28 2015 9:49 a.m. MDT

Brittany Sanders as Fiona MacLaren and Adam Dietlein as Tommy Albright in Hale Centre Theatres production of Brigadoon. (Courtesy Hale Centre Theatre) Brittany Sanders as Fiona MacLaren and Adam Dietlein as Tommy Albright in Hale Centre Theatres production of Brigadoon. (Courtesy Hale Centre Theatre)

“Brigadoon,” Hale Centre Theatre West Valley City, through Nov. 30, $16-$26, 801-984-9000 or hct.org

WEST VALLEY CITY — While Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot” are more frequently performed, “Brigadoon” is also a treasure from the composers.

Hale Centre Theatre’s production of “Brigadoon” is as enchanting as the idyllic city that disappears into the Highland mist and returns for only one day every 100 years.

Replete with tartan kilts, bagpipes, heather bouquets, and merry laddies and lassies, the sturdy musical transports audiences to a Scotland of yore, with lush ballads and vigorous folk dances relating an engaging romantic story. There’s a striking beauty and dignity befitting this early classic from Broadway’s Golden Age.

The theater has assembled a bonnie team in director David Morgan, choreographer Jennifer Hill Barlow and music director Anne Puzey, along with dialect assistance of Jeffrey Whitlock.

“Brigadoon” is the story of two disillusioned 20th century Americans stumbling upon a Scottish village nowhere to be found on their map. Tommy Albright (Adam Dietlein) is about to wed a New York socialite, but not before a hunting trip with his cynical pal Jeff Douglas (Chase Ramsey). When they encounter villagers in 17th century traditional dress, the two simply assume a local festival is to be photographed for postcards.

Jeff is both the voice of reason to bridle Tommy’s rampant passion and the comic relief, and Ramsey is ideal. A skilled performer, Ramsey is superb, delicately finding the humor without pushing it over a cliff.

Dietlein as Tommy is weaker in trying to carry the lead role. He has a pleasant singing voice but not the robust power to make “From This Day On” impactful.

In the show’s other two sweeping ballads, “The Heather on the Hill” and “Almost Like Being in Love,” Dietlein sings with Brittany Sanders, who marvelously portrays Fiona MacLaren. Fiona must be winsome to persuade Tommy to leave behind the modern world, and Sanders radiates charm. Fiona has been waiting for a noble man, and during “Waitin’ for My Dearie,” she must decide if Tommy is the laddie of her dreams. Sanders’ solo is a vibrant musical high point of the evening.

On this single day in Brigadoon, Fiona’s sister Jean is about to wed Charlie Dalrymple, and Katelyn Milner and Derek Davis make a sweet couple. Milner is a proficient en pointe dancer, and Davis’ “I’ll Go Home with Bonnie Jean” and “Come to Me, Bend to Me” are joyously sung. Ben Isaacs authoritatively commands the important role of Harry Beaton, who has been madly in love with Jean and is now angry enough to strike out that she’s about to marry another.

The authentic-looking wedding “Sword Dance” is expertly performed by the spirited ensemble, and “My Mother’s Wedding Day” (nicely sung by Ali Bennett as the feisty Meg Brockie) also shows imaginative choreography. Along with many of the individual songs, the choral work is gorgeous, although there’s impact lost during the short instances of recorded voices.

It should be noted there’s a languid pace to this operetta that is wholly appropriate — and lovely. Some audience members may be too accustomed to the velocity of contemporary theater but will adjust and enjoy.

A final quibble is the set design. There are yards and yards of lush garlands and few set pieces to indicate change in locales. Lacking is a full expression of the mythical, storybook village.

“If ye love someone deeply, anythin’ is possible” is the phrase at the heart of this fable. That uncomplicated sentiment is an aspect that makes this show so endearing. “Brigadoon” is a transient pleasure to be cherished.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company