'Brigadoon' at Musicals at Richter - My Review

The lads and lassies perform under the stars

Musicals at Richter is a different experience than heading to your local brick and mortar theatre. Situated on the back lawn of the Richter Arts Center in Danbury in the midst of a beautiful golf course, it is Connecticut's longest running outdoor theater. Plenty of parking is at the Richter Park Golf Course, just beyond the Arts Center. Complimentary tickets were waiting for me at the gazebo that is the box office.

The stage is set in front of some trees, which in this case were simply an extension of the ones painted on the set. To the right of the well-lit stage is a plastic portable garage that serves as the orchestra pit for the five musicians. Patrons that arrived early set up their lawn chairs/blankets and some pretty impressive picnic dinners to enjoy while we waited for the sun to go down so that the magic of Brigadoon could begin. We knew it was curtain time when the actors began to file out the door of the Arts Center and walk backstage.

The Executive Director of Musicals at Richter Janice Gabriel told me that they had chosen to do Brigadoon as part of their 28th season because it is a classic, but I must admit that I had never seen the musical and was familiar with only one of the songs by Lerner and Loewe titled "Almost Like Being in Love." The premise of an enchanted Scottish village (a "highland voodoo town") that appears every hundred years requires a lot of suspension of disbelief, but the strong characters, the romance and finely performed music kept one's interest.

I didn't expect to recognize many member of this large cast simply because of the location, but there were a few familiar faces. Ms. Gabriel was "Madame Aubert" in Titanic at the Warner, as well as a host of other roles, but was benched from the ensemble at this performance due to a knee injury she sustained at Tech Sunday. I hope that she heals in time to take her rightful place in the ensemble. Lead role of "Mr. Lundie" was well-played by Patrick Spaulding ("Henry Etches" in ) and Priscilla Squires ("Alice Beane" in Titanic) was adorable as "Mrs. Dalrymple."

Following in the footsteps of husband and wife teams Bif and Isabel Carrington () and John and Roxie Quinn (,) Caitlin and Nathan Mandracchia take on the lead romantic roles of "Fiona" and "Tommy Albright." The romance part was probably the easiest part of the roles for this cute couple, but they nailed the singing and dancing as well. She already has the lilting voice and  perfected the Scottish accent that the role requires and he shines in his scenes with his comic foil "Jeff Douglas" (played to perfection by Ted Schwarz.)

The wedding couple is played by Danielle Aldredo ("Jean MacLauren") and Brian Bremer ("Charlie Dalrymple") and Mike Lozier, the President of Musicals at Richter himself, appears as "Frank the Bartender." Dr. Barbara Kessler shines as "Mrs. Beaton" and Dianna Waller is hysterical in the featured comic role of "Meg Brockie."

Artistic Director Donald E. Birely has directed shows here since 2004 and does an excellent job of keeping the lads and lassies in this large cast in line. The principal actors were miked and the sound system worked amazingly well considering the production was outside.

Everyone in the adult, teen and children (including second grader Clara Blackwell) ensemble looks authentic in the wonderful costume by Renee Purdy and keeps up with the singing and dancing in the many ensemble numbers. Many of them are members of the same family. Jeri Kansas has done a fine job of choreographing the distinct numbers.

Concessions are available, as are sturdy plastic lawn chairs for rental. Also for sale are bug spray wipes (I was glad I had been forewarned to bring my own) and sunscreen. I also recommend bringing a jacket; even on this hot day, I needed it once the sun went down. I would definitely recommend this lovely fantasy as the perfect show for a summer evening.

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