Hale Center Theater Orem has packed as much energy and choreography into its production of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" as seems possible without actually having the front row of audience members join in the action.
It is amazing to see what this theater can fit onto its rather small stage with audience members on all four sides. At one point, 18 men and women are on stage dancing with all the enthusiasm they can muster.The choreography, by Brent Thomas Mills, is quite entertaining and very ambitious considering the setting. Women are lifted up and twirled and men jump on and over tables and offer real foot-stomping fun.
If the dancing isn't amazing enough, a fight breaks out between the seven brothers and the men they are competing with for dance partners and soon pandemonium reigns with men punching and women sobbing. All this had to be carefully choreographed to avoid someone really getting hurt - and the result is a lot of enjoyment for the audience.
The musical begins as Adam Pontipee (Gordon Miner) leaves his ranch in the mountains and travels to town to find himself a bride.
Surprisingly, he succeeds, with Milly (Jenn Webb) accepting his proposal on the spot. However, Adam conveniently forgets to mention that he has six unwed brothers also living with him in his cabin, and Milly soon finds herself standing in the bachelors' filthy home with the expectation that she is there to cook and clean for all.
Not one to give up, she rolls up her sleeves and sets to work civilizing all seven brothers. The results are often humorous, but heartwarming as well as Adam is the last to realize exactly how lucky he is to have a wife like Milly.
Miner makes an excellent Adam, rough and lovable and offering a beautiful, full singing voice. Webb also provides all the spunkiness one would expect in Milly, firmly and lovingly teaching the rough-hewn brothers the proper rules of etiquette.
The brothers are great fun, quick to shove or fight one another at the slightest insult (or over anything, really). They're tough and manly and provide humorous antics, but their rough exteriors melt as they become enchanted by Milly.
There are some fun extras added here and there during the show that the audience loved, especially as Milly worked to clean up the brothers' cabin and found a few surprises.
The cast and crew put in great effort to switch scenes as fast as possible and keep this play moving at a good clip. It helps immensely; there are many short scenes with complete set changes and the cast gets everything on and off in seconds with few glitches. In fact, occasionally it was a bit too fast as the scene change was anticipated.
On the night this reviewer attended, the theater experienced some sound problems, with lyrics occasionally disappearing beneath the backup music. Hopefully, these minor difficulties will be cleared up.
As is traditional at Hale Center Theater, the musical is double cast; this review is of the Mon/Wed/Fri cast. However, Miner performs on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, while his double, Erik Christensen, performs as Adam on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Webb usually performs Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with Megan Mack taking the role of Milly the rest of the week. The show is directed by Syd Riggs.