IF YOU GO
What: Stage musical
Where: Bellevue Little Theatre, 203 W. Mission Ave. in Bellevue
When: Friday through Sept. 29. New curtain time: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: $18 adults, $15 senior citizens, $9 students
Information: 402-291-1554 or bellevuelittletheatre.com
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Soon after signing on to direct Lerner & Loewe's “Brigadoon” for the Bellevue Little Theatre, Laureen Pickle posted her news on Facebook, happy to immerse herself in a musical theater classic.
“But any time I talk about the classics, I get a collective groan from the theater community,” Pickle said. “It probably doesn't have anything to do with the show itself.”
Lerner & Loewe's “Brigadoon,” which opens Friday, is the story of two New York City tourists who stumble on a Scottish village that magically appears for just one day every hundred years. Romantic entanglements force a choice: Break ties and disappear into the rural past, or break hearts by sticking with the urban present. The show opened on Broadway in 1947 and became a 1954 movie starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse.
Classic songs from “Brigadoon” include “Almost Like Being in Love,” “Heather on the Hill,” “Go Home With Bonnie Jean” and “Waitin' for My Dearie.”
Pickle said the style of “Brigadoon,” very different from today's musicals in how a song is presented, can lead younger thespians to conclude that it's not relevant today. Contemporary shows like “Les Misérables,” “Wicked” and “The Lion King” inject more familiar themes, building a connection between characters and audience, she said.
But Pickle said musical theater titans like Steven Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber would not have been possible without the foundations Rodgers & Hammerstein and Lerner & Loewe built.
“While the style is different now, that doesn't mean what came before is irrelevant,” she said. “My challenge as a director is to make it relevant.”
Pickle said she has had to “finagle” a bit with the old formula of boy meets girl, they fall in love and live happily ever after, which satisfied 1947 audiences. She has trimmed a few bits of dated dialogue and emphasized the arc of the romances within select scenes.
“Now we want to see the relationship grow, to understand what makes the characters change. They need to be believable for today's audience.”
The show's greatest charm, she said, is its beautiful music, sung by lead players Kevin Olsen, Karrin Dignoti, Ed Cutler and Meghan Adair.
“Who doesn't want to believe that if you love someone enough, anything can happen?” Pickle said. “Love can still make miracles happen.”