Cockpit-in-Court presents enchanting production of 'Brigadoon

August 13, 1991|By J. Wynn Rousuck

The legendary village of Brigadoon is said to emerge from the Scottish mist only once every 100 years, but for the next six days you can catch an enticing glimpse of it at Essex Community College's Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre.

Lerner and Loewe's first hit musical, "Brigadoon" features some of their loveliest songs, including "Almost Like Being in Love," "Come to Me, Bend to Me" and "The Heather on the Hill." And, under the baton of Edward M. Shipley, the voices and orchestral players in Cockpit's production do a bonnie job with these lilting melodies.

Although the orchestra features a mere 10 musicians, they sound like more, and they form a tighter ensemble than many of their recent Cockpit counterparts. In contrast to the mini-orchestra, however, there's no shortage of performers on stage. Choreographer Robert D. Jenkins and Mr. Shipley, who doubles as director, maneuver a cast of nearly 50, and they do it with sufficient skill to make the wee town appear colorful, but not overcrowded.

Not unlike the current films "City Slickers" or "Doc Hollywood," with their transplanted urbanites, "Brigadoon" is about two New Yorkers jolted out of their natural habitat, only to discover more about themselves than they ever could have learned back home.

Of course, the circumstances in "Brigadoon" are a bit strange. Two hundred years ago, the local minister arranged for the unspoiled village to vanish, hoping to shield it from the encroaching evils of the outside world. The catch is that Brigadoon reappears for a single day each century, and that's when New Yorkers Tommy Albright and Jeff Douglas wander in.

Love is in the air as they arrive, with the villagers preparing for a wedding. Jonathan Oyler, as the bridegroom, not only gets to exchange vows with the fresh and charming Anne Ackerman, he also gets the pleasure of singing some of the show's most mellifluous songs -- and he makes listening to them a pleasure as well.

For comic relief, the cast includes Kris Goss as a villager as bountiful with her favors as she in girth; she's a hoot enumerating her amorous adventures, as well as those of her mother, in "The Love of My Life" and "My Mother's Weddin' Day."

Perhaps encouraged by the romantic goings-on, Tommy Albright (Klaude J. Krannebitter) falls for a Highland lass (Helen Nathan). Meanwhile, Tommy's cynical friend Jeff does his best to remain skeptical and aloof, qualities limned with an entertainingly light touch by Joseph R. Moore.

The challenge of adding an edge to these sugar-coated proceedings falls to the bride's jilted suitor, played by David Edwards, who introduces just enough anger to make the contrast credible.

The balance is further enhanced by Liese Weber Frutchey's funeral dance. Admittedly, like many of the production's Scottish folk-inspired dances, this mournful number goes on too long. But then, how can you complain about spending too much time in Brigadoon? As the local schoolmaster says, there must be a lot of folk who'd like a Brigadoon of their own.

"Brigadoon" continues at Cockpit in Court through Sunday; call 522-1269.

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