Brigadoon Was Briga-Delightful

“Once in the Highlands of Scotland, deep in the night on a murky brae, two weary hunters lost their way.” The opening lines introduce an adventure that became known as the classic musical Brigadoon, which New Players brought the Little Theatre this past March.

Brigadoon tells the story of Tommy Albright (played by Patrick Meyer) and Jeff Douglas (Michael Crowe), two Americans who travel abroad to Scotland on a hunting trip before Tommy’s marriage. While hopelessly lost in the Highlands, the two men suddenly see a quaint village through the mist.

In search of help, Tommy and Jeff stumble upon the weekly fair, where all the local vendors have come to sell their goods. This day in Brigadoon is particularly eventful due to the wedding of Charlie Dalrymple (Morgan Mastrangelo) to Jean MacLaren (Hennessy Sheehan).

Although the townspeople are hesitant to trust outsiders like Tommy and Jeff, who are both quintessenial New Yorkers, their fears are quickly alleviated by Fiona MacLaren (Catherine Marra), who has fallen in love with Tommy at first sight. Tommy and Fiona go off to spend the day together, yet on their journeys, Tommy begins to feel that Brigadoon is hiding something, given the lack of phones, the traditional dress, and the constant mention of a “miracle” that has taken place. Ultimately, Tommy and Jeff learn that the miracle of Brigadoon is that it only appears to outsiders once every hundred years. Having learned this, Tommy faces an impossible choice: to stay in Brigadoon with the woman he may truly love, or return to his life back in New York.

Preparation for the musical began in late October with auditions. This year, the musical is one of the largest in recent New Player’s history, including a cast of around 60 members from every grade and experience level. The show was choreographed by Mr. Tony Landa, produced by Ms. Kelly Van Zile, vocally coached by Mr. Steven Bourque and Mrs. Erika Bourque, and directed by Mrs. Jen Landa.

Although Mrs. Landa has choreographed countless New Players musicals prior to Brigadoon, this show was her directorial debut and the cast and crew enjoyed working under her during production. “Working with Mrs. Landa during Brigadoon was one of the most worthwhile experiences I’ve had in theatre,” described stage manager Ben Feder. “She sought input from her stage managers. She let us weigh in on the scenes and allowed me to help with character work. It made me feel like I was helping the show come together and I appreciate that a lot.”

“As with all musicals,” says sophomore Sam Vana, who plays Jean and Fiona MacLaren’s father Andrew, “in the beginning it was rough trying to piece all the parts together. But by the last couple of weeks it really came together into a show that everyone would love to see and be a part of.”

Once the curtain finally went up on opening night, the cast was greeted by a nearly full audience, a rare occurrence for a Thursday night show. Over the course of the weekend, the New Players performed the musical 6 times, including a modified version of the show at 4 o’clock on Friday, that was specifically tailored to an audience of 7 years old and younger (dubbed by the cast as “Baby Brigadoon”).

“Baby Brigadoon was great!” proclaimed Patrick Meyer. “It’s always good to present a work to a different audience who wouldn’t normally get to experience it. [The New Players] did the same kind of thing when we did a performance of A Christmas Carol for some students from Paterson. The idea of exposing a new group of people to theatre is very exciting and gratifying.”

Brigadoon quickly became a cast and faculty favorite; however, it almost did not happen. At the start of the school year, the New Players had anticipated performing West Side Story as their school year musical, but due to licensing and rights complications, they were legally unable to perform this show.

Pursuant to the classic theatre idiom “the show must go on,” Mrs. Landa remained calm and decided to bring Brigadoon, which she herself had done when she was in high school. Although it got off to unusually complicated start, Brigadoon came together. “As with all musicals in the beginning it was rough trying to piece all the parts together,” elaborated Vana. “But by the last couple of weeks it really became a show that everyone in the audience loved to see and everyone in the cast loved to perform.”

Kenny Crane-Moscowitz

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