Brigadoon

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Brigadoon
Brigadoon 1947 a.JPG
Cover of original cast recording
MusicFrederick Loewe
LyricsAlan Jay Lerner
BookAlan Jay Lerner
Productions1947 Broadway
1949 West End
1954 Film version
1957 Broadway revival
1963 Broadway revival
1966 U.S. Television
1980 Broadway revival
1988 West End
 
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Brigadoon
Brigadoon 1947 a.JPG
Cover of original cast recording
MusicFrederick Loewe
LyricsAlan Jay Lerner
BookAlan Jay Lerner
Productions1947 Broadway
1949 West End
1954 Film version
1957 Broadway revival
1963 Broadway revival
1966 U.S. Television
1980 Broadway revival
1988 West End

Brigadoon is a musical with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. Songs from the musical, such as "Almost Like Being in Love" have become standards. The story involves two American tourists who stumble upon Brigadoon, a mysterious Scottish village that appears for only one day every hundred years. Tommy, one of the tourists, falls in love with Fiona, a young woman from Brigadoon.

The original production opened on Broadway in 1947 and ran for 581 performances. It starred David Brooks, George Keane, and Marion Bell. Brigadoon then received a West End production opening in 1949 that ran for 685 performances, and many revivals followed. A 1954 film version starred Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse. A 1966 television version starred Robert Goulet and Peter Falk.

Background[edit]

Lyricist and book writer Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe had previously collaborated on three musicals; the first, Life of the Party, closed during pre-Broadway tryouts, and the second and third, What's Up? and The Day Before Spring had met with moderate success.[1] Inspired by Rodgers and Hammerstein's successful collaborations Oklahoma! and Carousel, they created Brigadoon, about a magical village in the Scottish highlands.[2] Like Oklahoma! and Carousel, Brigadoon included a serious love story as the main plot and a lighter romance as subplot.[3] Thematically, the musical depicted the contrast between empty city life and the warmth and simplicity of the country, focusing on a theme of love transcending time.[1][4] Agnes de Mille, who had previously choreographed Oklahoma! and Carousel, was hired as choreographer, and her work for Brigadoon incorporated elements of traditional Scottish folk dance; her dances for the musical included a traditional sword dance, a chase scene, and a funeral dance.[1][2] Though Lerner and Loewe originally took Brigadoon to producer Billy Rose, Cheryl Crawford was the producer who actually brought Brigadoon to Broadway.[1] Lerner explained the change in producer by saying "The contract that [Billy Rose] wished us to sign negated Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves".[1] Under Loewe's guidance, Ted Royal received a sole orchestrator credit for his work on the original production. His atmospheric arrangements have been frequently used for the revivals.[5]

The New York Times's theatre critic George Jean Nathan wrote that Lerner's book was based on a much older German story by Friedrich Gerstäcker, later translated by Charles Brandon Schaeffer, about the mythical village of Germelshausen that fell under a magic curse.[6] However, Lerner denied that he had based the book on an older story, and, in an explanation published in The New York Times, stated that he didn't learn of the existence of the Germelshausen story until after he had completed the first draft of Brigadoon.[7][8] Lerner said that in his subsequent research, he found many other legends of disappearing towns in various countries' folklore, and he pronounced their similarities "unconscious coincidence".[7]

Lerner's name for his imaginary locale was probably based on a well-known Scottish landmark, the Brig o' Doon (Bridge of Doon). Other sources suggest that the fictional village's name was constructed from the Celtic word "briga", which means "town" (such as in the old city names of Segobriga and Brigantium) and the Scottish Gaelic "dùn", which means a fort. The name may also be a reference to the Celtic goddess Brigid.

Synopsis[edit]

Act I

New Yorkers Tommy Albright and Jeff Douglas have traveled to the Scottish Highlands on a game-hunting vacation, only to get lost their first night out. They begin to hear music ("Brigadoon") coming from a nearby village; strangely, the village does not appear on their map of the area. Tommy and Jeff decide to visit it to get directions back to their inn. In the town, a fair has begun ("McConnachy Square"). The villagers are dressed in traditional Scottish tartan. Andrew MacKeith and his daughters arrive at the fair to purchase supplies for the wedding of younger daughter Jean to Charlie Dalrymple. Harry Ritchie is madly in love with Jean and is depressed at the thought of her marrying another. One of the girls asks Fiona, Jean's older sister, when she will get married, and she says she is waiting for the right person ("Waitin' For My Dearie").

Tommy and Jeff wander into the village, and when they ask where they are, the villagers tell them "Brigadoon". Fiona invites the Americans to have a meal and rest at the MacKeith's' home. Meg Brockie, a flirtatious dairy maid, immediately takes a liking to Jeff and leads him off. Charlie Dalrymple appears, rejoicing in his impending nuptials. He shares a drink with Tommy, toasting to a Mr. Forsythe whom he thanks for "postponing the miracle". Tommy asks what he means by this, but Fiona shushes him and leads him away as Charlie celebrates the end of his bachelorhood ("Go Home with Bonnie Jean"). Tommy tells Fiona about his impending marriage to his fiancée Jane in New York; Tommy is in no hurry to marry Jane, and Fiona reveals that she likes Tommy very much. Fiona goes to gather heather for the wedding, and Tommy insists on going with her ("The Heather on the Hill"). Meanwhile, Meg takes Jeff to a place in the forest with a shack and a cot. She tells him she's "highly attracted" to him, but he spurns her advances, wanting only to sleep. She reflects on her unusual love-life ("The Love Of My Life").

In the MacKeith home, Jean's friends help her pack her things to move into Charlie's home ("Jeannie's Packin' Up"). Charlie arrives to sign the MacKeith family Bible. He wants to see Jean, but he is told it is bad luck to see her on the wedding day. He begs for her to come out anyway ("Come to Me, Bend to Me"). Tommy and Fiona return with a basket full of heather, and Fiona goes upstairs to help Jean dress for the wedding. Jeff arrives wearing a pair of Highland trews (trousers); apparently his own pants have been damaged on a "thistle". Jeff finds that Tommy is so happy that he can barely contain it ("Almost Like Being In Love"). Tommy notices that all the events listed in the family Bible, including Jean's wedding, are listed as if they had happened two hundred years earlier. He asks Fiona why this is so, and she tells him that he needs to see the schoolmaster, Mr. Murdoch, to get the full explanation.

Fiona, Tommy, and Jeff arrive at Mr. Murdoch's home, where he relates a story that the two New Yorkers can hardly believe: to protect Brigadoon from being changed by the outside world, two hundred years ago, the local minister prayed to God to have Brigadoon disappear, only to reappear for one day every 100 years. None of the people of Brigadoon can be permitted to leave the town, or it will disappear forever. Tommy asks hypothetically if an outsider could be permitted to stay. Mr. Murdoch replies, "A stranger can stay if he loves someone here - not jus' Brigadoon, mind ye, but someone in Brigadoon - enough to want to give up everythin' an' stay with that one person. Which is how it should be. 'Cause after all, lad, if ye love someone deeply, anythin' is possible."[9]

The group leaves to go to the wedding, which opens with the clans coming in from the hills. Mr. Murdoch marries Charlie and Jean, and they perform a traditional wedding-dance to celebrate. Sword dancers appear, led by Harry, and they perform an elaborate dance over their weapons. All the town joins in the dance, but it abruptly halts when Jean screams as Harry tries to kiss her. In anguish over Jean's wedding, he announces that he's leaving the town (which would end the miracle, causing Brigadoon to disappear forever into the Highland mists) and sprints away.

Act II

The men of the town, including Tommy and a reluctant Jeff, frantically try to find Harry before he can depart the town ("The Chase"). Suddenly an agonized scream is heard. Harry, who appears to have fallen on a rock and crushed his skull, is found dead by the other men. They decide not to tell the rest of the town until the next morning. The men carry Harry's body away. Fiona and her father arrive to see if everything is all right. As Mr. MacLaren leaves, Tommy sees Fiona, and they embrace. She reveals her love for him, and he tells her he believes he feels the same way ("There But For You Go I"). Fiona reminds him that the end of the day is near, and Tommy tells her he wants to stay in Brigadoon with her. They go to find Mr. Murdoch.

Meanwhile, in the village, Meg tells about the day her parents were drunkenly married ("My Mother's Wedding Day") and the townsfolk dance until the sound of highland pipes pierces the air. Donald Ritchie enters carrying Harry's body, led by the pipers playing a pìobaireachd. Maggie Abernethy, who loved Harry, performs a funeral dance for her unrequited love. The men of Brigadoon help Archie carry his son to the burial place.

Tommy finds Jeff and tells him of his plans to stay. Jeff thinks the idea absurd and argues with Tommy until he has convinced him that Brigadoon is only a dream. Jeff also reveals that he tripped Harry and accidentally killed him. Fiona and Mr. Murdoch arrive, and Tommy, shaken by Jeff's confession, tells Fiona that even though he loves her, he cannot stay; he still has doubts ("From This Day On"). Fiona tells Tommy that she will love him forever as she fades away into the darkness.

Four months later, Jeff is drinking heavily at a hotel bar in New York. Tommy, who has been living on a farm in New Hampshire, enters and greets Jeff. Tommy is still in love with Fiona and cannot stop thinking about her. His fiancée Jane Ashford, a beautiful socialite, talks to him about their impending wedding, but everything she says causes him to hear Fiona's voice and dream of Brigadoon ("Come to Me, Bend to Me" (reprise) and "Heather on the Hill" (reprise)). Tommy tells Jane that he cannot marry her, and she argues with him, but he continues to daydream about his true love ("Go Home With Bonnie Jean" (reprise) and "From This Day On" (reprise)). Jane leaves, and Tommy tells Jeff that he wants to return to Scotland, although he knows the village will not be there.

Tommy and Jeff return to the spot where they found Brigadoon and, as they expected, see nothing there. Tommy laments, "Why do people have to lose things to find out what they really mean?" Just as he and Jeff turn to leave, they hear the music again ("Brigadoon"), and Mr. Murdoch appears. Tommy walks across the bridge in a daze to him, as Mr. Murdoch explains: "Oh it's you Tommy, lad. You woke me up. You must really love her", to which Tommy, still dazed, stammers "Wha- how....?" and Mr. Murdoch replies, "You shouldna be too surprised, lad. I told ye when ye love someone deeply enough, anythin' is possible. Even miracles." Tommy waves goodbye to Jeff and disappears with Mr. Murdoch into the highland mist to be reunited with Fiona.

Song list[edit]

Act I
  • Overture
  • Prelude (Once In The Highlands)
  • Brigadoon
  • Vendors' Calls
  • Down On MacConnachy Square - Ensemble
  • Waitin' For My Dearie - Fiona and Girls
  • I'll Go Home With Bonnie Jean - Charlie and Ensemble
  • The Heather On The Hill - Tommy and Fiona
  • Rain Exorcism †
  • The Love Of My Life - Meg Brockie
  • Jeannie's Packin' Up - Girls
  • Come To Me, Bend To Me - Charlie
  • Ballet - Jean and Girls
  • Almost Like Being In Love - Tommy and Fiona
  • Wedding Ceremony/Entrance of the Clans ‡ Ensemble
  • The Sword Dance ‡ Harry and Ensemble
Act II
  • The Chase - Ensemble
  • There But For You Go I - Tommy
  • Steps Stately †
  • Drunken Reel †
  • My Mother's Wedding Day - Meg and Ensemble
  • Funeral Dance - Maggie
  • From This Day On - Tommy and Fiona
  • Farewell Music
  • Reprises: Come To Me, Bend to Me / The Heather on the Hill / From This Day On - Fiona and Charlie
  • Finale (Brigadoon) - Ensemble

† Added in 1980 revival
‡ Moved to Act II in 1980 revival

Productions[edit]

The original Broadway production, directed by Robert Lewis and choreographed by Agnes de Mille, opened March 13, 1947, at the Ziegfeld Theatre, where it ran for 581 performances. It starred David Brooks as Tommy, George Keane as Jeff, Marion Bell as Fiona, Lee Sullivan as Charlie, Virginia Bosler as Jeannie, James Mitchell as Harry, and Pamela Britton as Meg.[10] The concertmistress of the orchestra was noted American violinist Joan Field. De Mille won the Tony Award for Best Choreography, and Bell and Mitchell won the Theatre World Award. The production enjoyed an extended North American tour.

The musical's original West End production opened on April 14, 1949, at Her Majesty's Theatre, running for 685 performances. It starred Philip Hanna as Tommy, Patricia Hughes as Fiona, James Jamieson as Harry, and Noele Gordon as Meg.

David Brooks reprised his role of Tommy in the Summertime Light Opera's production in Houston, Texas in 1950, with Gregg Juarez as Jeff and Dorothy MacNeil of the New York City Opera as Fiona. Stage direction was by John Brownlee, principal baritone of the Metropolitan Opera, and the musical director and conductor was Frederick Fennell of the Rochester Eastman Kodak Symphony.

The musical was revived at New York City Center in May 1950.[11] It was revived on Broadway seven years later, directed by George H. Englund and choreographed by De Mille, opening on April 15, 1957, at the Adelphi Theatre, where it ran for 24 performances. The cast included David Atkinson, Helen Gallagher, Patricia Birch, and Marilyn Cooper. Another Broadway revival, directed by John Fearnley and choreographed by De Mille, opened on January 30, 1963, at New York City Center, where it ran for 16 performances. The cast included Peter Palmer, Russell Nype, Sally Ann Howes, and Edward Villella. It was Tony-nominated for Best Actress in a Musical (Howes), Best Direction of a Musical, and Best Conductor and Musical Director.[11]

The next Broadway revival, directed by Vivian Matalon and choreographed by De Mille, opened on October 16, 1980, at the Majestic Theatre, where it ran for 133 performances and eight previews. The cast included Meg Bussert, Martin Vidnovic, and John Curry. Vidnovic received Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations, Bussert earned a Tony nomination and won the Theatre World Award, and the production was Tony-nominated for Best Reproduction.[11]

New York City Opera staged the musical in 1986 and 1991.[12]

The musical was revived in the West End at the Victoria Palace Theatre, opening on October 25, 1988, and closing August 5, 1989, starring Robert Meadmore (Tommy), Jacinta Mulcahy, and Lesley Mackie. The director was Roger Redfarn and de Mille's dances were rechoreographed by Tommy Shaw. The Times reviewer noted that those dances were "the main source of the magic."[13][14]

Adaptations[edit]

Film[edit]

A Cinemascope film version of Brigadoon, directed by Vincente Minnelli, was released by MGM in 1954 with Gene Kelly, Van Johnson and Cyd Charisse in leading roles.

Television[edit]

A 1966 television version, shown as a color special on the ABC television network,[15] made use of a modernized, abbreviated script that accommodated much more of the score than the film version had, though the entire production ran only ninety minutes with commercials. The television version won five Emmy awards. In this production, Tommy and Jeff were participating in an auto race when their car stalled just outside of Brigadoon.

The TV movie starred Robert Goulet as Tommy, Peter Falk as Jeff, and Sally Ann Howes as Fiona, with Finlay Currie in one of his last roles as Mr. Lundie, Edward Villella as Harry Beaton, and Marlyn Mason as Meg.[15] "My Mother's Wedding Day" was restored to this version, though "Once in the Highlands", "Jeannie's Packin' Up", and "The Love of My Life" were still absent. The 1966 telecast of Brigadoon has not been shown since its 1968 rebroadcast on ABC, nor has it ever been released on videocassette or DVD, though it may be viewed on the Internet Archive[16] and most recently on YouTube.

Reception[edit]

Brigadoon opened to very positive reviews with praise for its originality and integration of song and story, though some critics had minor points of criticism.

Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times praised the musical's integration, saying "For once, the modest label "musical play" has a precise meaning. For it is impossible to say where the music and dancing leave off and the story begins. Under Bob Lewis's direction all the arts of the theatre have been woven into a singing pattern of enchantment".[4] Atkinson also emphasized Agnes de Mille's contributions as choreographer: "Some of the dances are merely illustrations for the music. One or two of them are conventional, if lovely, maiden round dances. But some of them, like the desperate chase in the forest, are fiercely dramatic. The funeral dance to the dour tune of bagpipes brings the footstep of doom into the forest. And the sword dance, done magnificently by James Mitchell, is tremendously exciting with its stylization of primitive ideas".[4]

Robert Coleman of the New York Daily Mirror said, "It took courage to produce Brigadoon, an unconventional musical show of marked originality...[that] still manages to pack a tartan full of popular appeal".[4] In the New York Herald Tribune, Howard Barnes pronounced Brigadoon "A bonny thing for Broadway, a scintillating song and dance fantasy that has given theatregoers reason to toss tamoshanters in air".[4] Robert Garland of the New York Journal American particularly praised Pamela Britton as Meg Brockie: "Pamela Britton escaped from both M.G.M. and Frank Sinatra in time to be tough as a Scottish temptress, and rough as a singer of raffish songs".[4] He also opined that famed Russian choreographer George Balanchine should watch Brigadoon to learn how a musical should be choreographed. Ward Morehouse of The New York Sun deemed it "A stunning show", saying, "It has whimsy, beguiling music, exciting dancing--and it has a book....Brigadoon is by far the best musical play the season has produced, and it is certainly one of the best within my entire play-going experience".[4]

John Chapman of the Daily News enjoyed the dances but thought there were too many and that they interrupted the story: "Just when I get pleasantly steamed up about the love of Mr. Brooks and Miss Bell, I don't want to be cooled off by watching a herd of gazelles from Chorus Equity running around".[4] He particularly praised William Hansen's performance as Mr. Lundie, declaring that he "is so irresistibly able to persuade you that if there isn't a village named Brigadoon, there ought to be".[4] Louis Kronenberger of PM said, "the musical fantasy [Brigadoon] not only has charm; it shows a good deal of independence...its charm must lie less in any story it tells than in the general mood it creates; and it has created that mood by fusing a number of theatre elements as densely as possible".[4] Kronenberger, however, disliked the ending, calling it "an outright blunder" done "in the corniest Broadway fashion".[4] Richard Watts, Jr. of the New York Post wrote, "I have seen other musical comedies that I enjoyed more, but few for which I have a deeper admiration".[4] He opined that Lerner and Loewe's score for The Day Before Spring the previous year was better than theirs for Brigadoon, explaining that, "If my first emotion last night was admiration rather than sheer enjoyment, it was because the proceedings seemed to me more marked by taste and style than by emotional warmth in book and music, but there is no denying that the authors have matured as theatrical craftsmen".[4]

Recordings[edit]

The following list of recordings is based on John Kenrick's discography for the site Musicals 101.[17]

Production notes[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Bloom and Vlastnik, p. 40
  2. ^ a b Kantor, Michael, and Maslon, Laurence. Broadway: The American Musical. New York: Bullfinch Press, 2004, p. 205. ISBN 0-8212-2905-2
  3. ^ Stempel, 350
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Suskin, pp. 103–107
  5. ^ Steven Suskin, The Sound of Broadway Music, Oxford University Press, New York, 2009, p. 83.
  6. ^ Lees, Gene."Brigadoon"The musical worlds of Lerner and Loewe, U. of Nebraska Press, 2005, ISBN 0-8032-8040-8, p. 49
  7. ^ a b Lerner, Alan. The Street Where I Live. W.W. Norton & Company, New York. 1978, p. 26
  8. ^ Lerner, Alan Jay. "Drama Mailbag". The New York Times, March 30, 1947, p. X3
  9. ^ The 1980 Broadway revival broke the acts here
  10. ^ Green, Stanley."'Brigadoon'" The World of Musical Comedy (4 ed.), Da Capo Press, 1984, ISBN 0-306-80207-4, p. 442
  11. ^ a b c List of Broadway productions of Brigadoon at the IBDB database
  12. ^ Rothstein, Edward. "Brigadoon Is Back Early (After Five Years, in Fact)", The New York Times, November 9, 1991, accessed 6 November 2009
  13. ^ "'Brigadoon', Victoria Palace Theatre, 1988-89" thisistheatre.com, retrieved March 7, 2010
  14. ^ Wardle, Irving. "'Brigadoon'; Victoria Palace; Theatre", The Times (London), October 27, 1988, no page number (Issue 63223)
  15. ^ a b Roberts, Jerry."'Brigadoon', Television" The Great American Playwrights on the Screen, Hal Leonard Corporation, 2003, ISBN 1-55783-512-8, p. 332
  16. ^ "Brigadoon (1966)". Internet Archive. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  17. ^ Kenrick, John. "Comparative CD Reviews, 'Brigadoon'" musicals101.com, accessed January 21, 2011

References[edit]

External links[edit]