Brigadoon lifts up the kilts and spirits at Gateway Theatre in Richmond

Brigadoon lifts up the kilts and spirits at Gateway Theatre in Richmond

Brigadoon
by Frederick Lowe & Alan Jay Lerner
Dec 9, 2005 to January 1, 2006
Gateway Theatre
Richmond, BC
Directed by David Adams


Vince Kanahoot
performs the sword dance with Jeremy Crittenden and Calvin Lee, while
Evelyn Thatcher, Dave Barton, Joe Mannion and Chelsey Yamasaki look on
– demonstrating the joys of colour-blind casting and seeing Asians
dancing in kilts – photo courtesy of Gateway Theatre

What happens when two Vancouverites go on a backpacking holiday to
Scotland and stumble upon a mystical magical town named Brigadoon,
which only appears once every one hundred years?

Many Vancouverites and Canadians can claim to have some Scottish blood
in their ancestry, and many more Vancouverites make attending Robbie
Burns Dinners an annual not-too-miss event.  This Lerner and Lowe
musical was first staged on Broadway in 1947 and ran for 581
performaces, before being made into a 1954 movie starring Gene Kelly,
Cyd Charisse and Van Johnson.

The town of Brigadoon was beset by evil from the outside world in 1705,
and a magic spell was put upon the town and its people to only reappear
for a single day, once every hundred years.  It is a story where
true love conquers all – but it must be a pure love because while one
of the hapful Vancourites, Tommy Albright, falls in love with resident
maiden Fiona MacLaren, Fiona's younger sister has a determined and
obsessive suitor who is determined not to enjoy her wedding day.

Mark Pawson and Evelyn Thatcher as Tommy Albright and Fiona MacLaren – photo courtesy of the Gateway Theatre.

Evelyn Thatcher is a wonderful Fiona, with a strong soprano singing
voice from an operatic background. Thatcher has a radiant presence
which makes it easy to see why all the town's people love her. 
Thatcher also delights with a sparkling Scottish accent, that reminded
me of my conversations with BBC Radio Scotland host Maggie Shiels of
the program “Scotland Licked!”

Mark Pawson plays Tommy Albright who must go through denial, then
self-doubt in order to discover his love for Fiona which he expresses
to his buddy Jeff Douglas, played wittingly by Leon Willey, when Pawson
sings the musical's signature song – “Almost Like Being in Love.”

Laura Jaszcz also provides great amusement as the bawdy man-hungry Meg
Brockie, who proves to be a strong match for Jeff's comic foil.

Jeremy Crittenden presents a wonderful Charlie Dalrymple, the character
who marries Fiona's sister Jean MacLaren played by Chelsea
Hochfilzer.  Crittenden shows off his ample skills by both dancing
and singing especially when performing “I'll Go Home With Bonnie Jean.”

While the musical is filled with stereotypes of Scottish culture –
the Gateway team has worked hard to bring in a feeling of
authenticity.  And
it all seems to fit perfectly natural in a mystical land filled with
mist,
where the townsfolk all gaily dance and sing.  There is great
cameraderie and chemistry in the cast and they really seem to be
enjoying themselves in this production and project it well to the
audience.

During intermission I heard many audience members stating how much they
were enjoying the production.  On opening night, there was many a
kilt to be seen, as this play surely touches the heart and the many
inner-Scots for BCers (myself included).

It was particularly interesting to see so many Asian cast members
playing the roles of the Brigadoon townsfolk.  This is due to the
Gateway's policy of colour blind casting.  Vince Kanahoot plays
the important role of Harry, Jean MacLaren's dejected suitor. 
Calvin Lee plays the town barkeep, Chelsey Yamasaki plays one of the
town maidens.  I was also delighted to meet Filipino-Canadian
Alexi Geronimo who is the dancing cousin of  musician Raphael
Geronimo – leader of the band Rumba Calzada.  It all adds up to a multicultural reflection of the
community. 

The next step might be to have one of the travelling Vancouverites be an Asian and
fall in love with one of the Scottish maidens… but maybe that will
happen soon.  I couldn't help but wonder what happens when
Brigadoon is staged in Hong Kong, Singapore or Shanghai? 
Everybody would be Asian then!  Asian Scots!?!?!? how absurd – but
not so really when Vancouver can boast resident poet Fiona Lam, born in
Scotland of Chinese ancestry, as well as many other Vancouverites born of both Scottish and Chinese heritage.

Other articles/reviews of Brigadoon:
Richmond News: Bring On Brigaoon by Michelle Hopkins.

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