BWW Reviews: BRIGADOON is Enchanting at Raleigh's Burning Coal Theatre
Right in the heart of downtown Raleigh, there is a magical town popping up, thanks to Burning Coal Theatre Company's current production of Brigadoon. Their small space comes to life as the enchanTEd Scottish village in this classic 1947 Lerner and Loewe musical.
Brigadoon tells the story of two American travelers who happen upon a town in Scotland which only appears for one day every one hundred years. The travelers, Tommy and Jeff, happen upon townsfolk of all sorts, and encounter camaraderie, intrigue, and even romance. Fiona, a young woman in the town seems taken with Tommy, but with the town about to disappear again at nightfall, it seems that a love between them simply cannot be.
The cast is firmly anchored by the talents of Andrew Bosworth as Tommy Albright and Natalie Reder as Fiona MacLaren. Reder is making a return to theater after a three-year hiatus, and we are all the better for her return. She is a marvelous find for Burning Coal (and for Raleigh), as her pure soprano voice captivates the audience. The notes seem to simply flow out of her. She truly embodies Fiona, and her performance in and of itself would be worth the price of admission. Bosworth carries the romantic lead role with grace, and is a solid match for Reder's vocals. To our great delight, the rest of the cast proves their vocal chops and illuminates the theater with their harmonies. The orchestra was, at times, outshined by the cast, with what seemed to be a timid violin matched with a powerful clarinet.
The set was an interesting set-up of strings going from floor to balcony, and made good use of the space. Occasionally, the minimalistic use of props was a bit strange (were they intending to pretend that the flowers were other goods for sale at the market?), but sufficed, especially considering limitations on set changes in such a space. It was able to somehow give the illusion of enclosed spaces and open fields without changing much. The actors and director Emily Ranii did an excellent job using the set to their advantage. I would have liked to have seen a more colorful collection of costumes, with different tartans and designs, as the brown/taupe theme seemed a tad bland, but the costumes were well-constructed, and seemed authentic enough for centuries-ago Scotland.
When taking on a well-known classic like Brigadoon, you run the risk of seeming outdated or redundant. However, Burning Coal is able to swiftly avoid those pitfalls by providing fresh eyes on a musical theater gem. The show feels relevant, contemporary, and new. Even if you think you already know Brigadoon, I promise it's worth a visit.
Brigadoon runs through September 23. For tickets and more information, visit www.burningcoal.org.