The big reason to catch the Bellevue Little Theatre's production of “Brigadoon” isn't hard to pinpoint. It's the singing.
The 1947 classic musical about a Scottish village that magically appears just one day each century reminds you just how good Lerner & Loewe (“Camelot,” “My Fair Lady”) were at romantic ballads, which director Laureen Pickle and music director Chris Ebke give star treatment. Simple, effective staging showcases vocal talent.
Whether it's the lush, lilting choral harmonies of the title song, coming from somewhere out of the mist, or terrific solo work by leads Karrin Jones Dignoti, Kevin Olsen and Mark Harman, you're in for a vocal treat. Even the bit-part singers doing vendors' calls in the village square shine.
Just as beautiful to look at as she is to hear, Dignoti captures hearts early on as Fiona, hoping for the love of her life to appear in “Waiting for My Dearie.” She then duets with Kevin Olsen as Tommy, a New York tourist who stumbles onto Brigadoon and love. Classics like “Heather on the Hill” and “Almost Like Being in Love” sparkle agelessly in their hands, and they do a fine job in the acting department as well.
Not to be outdone, Mark Harman displays a pitch-perfect high tenor with exquisite phrasing as bridegroom Charlie. It's hard to imagine a more beautiful rendition than his of “Come to Me, Bend to Me.” Or, for that matter, a better way to experience the peppier “I'll Go Home With Bonnie Jean,” complete with a jig.
Katie Hogston's fetching choreography, suited to the skills of this community cast, adds a lot. Some dance numbers, particularly in the second act, go on a bit long, but a pre-wedding ballet led by a female quartet is nicely executed.
Pickle has paid attention to detail in several ensemble scenes, which pays off particularly in the show opening and Act One. Nice character work comes from Trude Smouse as a flirtatious dancer, Geoff Chenoweth as schoolmaster Mr. Lundie (nice Scottish brogue), Meghan Adair as Jean, Tom Fleckten as Fiona and Jean's father, and Adam Hogston as the jealous lad who lost Jean's hand.
Most laughs come from Ed Cutler as Tommy's cynical sidekick, Jeff, and from Sarah Query as lusty lassie Meg Brockie. Query's comedy is delivered in song (“The Love of My Life” was particularly effective), while Cutler's timing on one-liners drew laughs as well.
Production values are clearly on a budget here. With a cast of nearly 40, the BLT's space limitations show — though Pickle does her best by using aisles and floor in front of the stage to ease crowding.
I'd never seen “Brigadoon” onstage before Thursday's preview. For me, the first act was a home run, while the second languished with fewer gorgeous songs. A wedding and a dramatic plot development felt drawn out. Pacing was generally good if slow in spots, typical of a preview.
I'd have gone home happy just hearing those lovely ballads sung so well. A well-rehearsed chorus and some fine character acting also made “Brigadoon” worth driving out of my way to catch.