BWW Reviews: Candlelight Presents Rollicking SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers/book by Lawrence Kasha and David Landay/music by Gene de Paul/lyrics by Johnny Mercer/new songs by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn/based on the MGM film and "The Sobbin' Women" by Stephen Vincent Benet/directed and choreographed by Janet Renslow/Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre, Claremont/through November 24
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, whether on screen or onstage, is pure Hollywood magic. Entertaining with its homespun humor and traditional lore... and infused with electrifying song and dance, the plot of the musical play follows the film practically to the letter...and what delightful fun, as in the current excellent production at Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre through November 24. This cast under Janet Renslow's sturdy direction delivers the goods.
It's Oregon, 1850. Mountaineer Adam Pontipee (Sam Zeller) has his eye on pretty Milly (Stacy Huntington), not to woo or court her, but to flat out marry her and take her home to take care of his six brothers who live with him in a small log cabin. Not realizing what she is getting herself into, as she envisioned a quiet life with a handsome mate, Milly accepts the proposal and ventures to the top of the mountain and a cabin full of surprises. It's a long winter, the bad mannered boys are aching for female company, so Milly coaches them with lessons of etiquette....and how to dance. Soon Adam sees that her word has been stronger than his and that, in his mind, she has taken too much control and turned his brothers into a bunch of sissies. They all attend a town dance, the boys meet six lovely ladies, but their upright beaus are none too happy. A fight ensues, sending Adam and his brothers home with more bruised egos than actual bruises, and their aching for these six pretty gals becomes overbearing. At Adam's suggestion, the boys plan a kidnapping as the Romans did the Sabine women causing an uproar with the townsfolk and initial unhappiness among the women. There's not much plot afoot, but boy oh boy, there is plenty of choreographed action, making the dance numbers the thing to watch, thanks to Renslow's brisk acrobatic choreography.
As I stated at the top, this is a wholesome musical of sheer Hollywood style, so anything unpleasant is over in a flash. Happy endings and incredibly fast transitions! Just picture the seven grubby, bearded studs clean-shaven and shiny-faced handsome in what seems like a snap of the fingers...magic time! Most of the music is pretty such as "Wonderful, Wonderful Day", not memorable like other Johnny Mercer tunes, but enjoyable fare.
The entire ensemble is outstanding led by Zeller and Huntington who make the roles their own. Lovely Huntington is perfectly cast, reminding one of Jane Powell. She has a truly splendid voice. Zeller is a terrific character actor with a big burly look. Despite his stunning manly good looks, he is not a typical leading-man type, but manages to fill the bill surprisingly well, and proving himself a truly fine singer. Praise as well to the six brothers: Ben (Josh Taylor), Caleb (Tyler Logan), Daniel (Michael Milligan), Ephraim (Donald Pettit), Frank (Chaz Feuerstine) and Gideon (Ariel Neydavoud). They are each and everyone terrific triple threats as are gals Dorcas (Sharon Jewell), Ruth (Jessie Parmelee), Liza (Susanna Vaughn), Martha (Sierra Taylor), Sarah (Rachel Burkert), and Alice (Andrea Aron). Kudos to the complete cast for some great singing, lively dancing and a whole lot of down home fun! Sets (Greg Hinrichsen) are simple but mountain perfect.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is good family entertainment perfect for the holidays, so don't miss it!