In all my years of covering the productions of Evanston’s Light Opera Works, I have never been disappointed. They do brilliant work on their main stage shows s well as their second stage shows ( much smaller in size). Their current production of “Brigadoon”, Lerner and Loewe’s enchanting love story of a village in Scotland that is under a magical spell and the American visitor who finds his entire life changed by one day in this magical place. Try to imagine a place that only appears every hundred years- a place where when the day ends and they go to sleep, the next time they waken 100 years will have passed. If however, one were to leave this Village, the magic would cease and all would perish. Now, try to imagine that you were the person who landed there, fell in love with a local and the village. Could you stay? Could you leave? “Brigadoon” will tell you this marvelous tale under the direction of Rudy Hogenmiller, who also handles the choreography, this is a 2 hour and forty five minute “gem” of a classic. While most theaters who take on this show do not use the entire score, Light Opera Works does and many of the dance numbers in this piece are more ballet than typical musical theater. Mind you, this is not a professional ( Equity, although they do have one Equity player in the cast)company, but solid performers, with marvelous voices who make the songs come alive and dance as well as any production in town. This ensemble of performers is composed of many of our local performers seen in the smaller storefront theaters in town- who perform for the love of the art and it shows in their work.
The music in this show is memorable as well. “I’ll Go Home With Bonnie Jean” ( beautifully done by Brandon Moorhead as Charley),”Almost Like Being in Love” ( a duet by leads Robert Hunt as Tommyand Jennie Sophia as Fiona),””From This Day On” ( another duet by this couple) and of course the title song “Brigadoon” handled by the entire cast. There is also the very robust “The Love of My Life” ( handled by the always reliable Maggie Portman who commands the stage when she is on it). The orchestra, conducted by Roger L. Bingaman is as always solid and fills the Cahn Auditorium in Evanston with perfection in music. Matthew Owens brings the Scottish touch with his marvelous bagpipe playing adding something very special to this production.
The cast is composed of: Clay Sanderson as Jeff ( Tommy’s comic sidekick), Jerry M. Miller, Bobby Johnson ( who is a marvelous dancer and brings an electric energy to the role of Harry Beaton, the man who almost destroys the magic of the village),Emily A Rogers, Chuck Sison, Glenn Braun,Jeffrey Lyle Segal, Alex Honzen,Erin Clyne,Rebecca Pink and William Travis Taylor. The townspeople all added to the glorious sounds and wonderful dancing and the costumes by Ricky Lurie were classical. The set by Nick Mozak is a simple use of the stage in that with the exception of a scene in the second act, we are in Scotland and we can feel that we are in a special place yet not lose focus to the story. R & D Choreography’s violence choreography for Harry’s escape is quite suspenseful and very athletic.
I would have to say that the only fault that this production has is that you only have until June 12th to witness its beauty. Yes, the performance schedule is limited due to the full orchestra so here is what dates you can see it: Wednesday ,June 8th at 2 p.m.,Friday,June 10th at 8 p.m.,Saturdays ,June 11th at 8 p.m. and Sunday,June 12th at 2 p.m.
Cahn Auditorium is located at 600 Emerson Street ( at Chicago Avenue/Sheridan Road) on the campus of Northwestern Univresity.
Tickets range from $32-$92 ( half price for ages 21 and younger) and can be purchased by calling 847-869-6300 or online at www.LightOperaWorks.org
There is some street parking nearby and a public parking lot ( $1 per hour) just 1 block south of the Cahn.