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In ‘Brigadoon,’ Love Casts A Strong Spell

Miranda Webster, a student at H-B Woodlawn, reviews George Mason High School’s “Brigadoon."

(Courtesy of Katie Buenneke)

There’s a gentle hum from the orchestra, distant singing is heard, and out of the mist rises George Mason High School’s production of Lerner and Loewe’s1947 musical, “Brigadoon,” a magical tale of love prevailing against all odds.

While wandering through the Scottish Highlands, Tommy Albright (played by Reilly O’Hara) and Jeff Douglas (Tei Armar) stumble across the mystical town of Brigadoon, a village under blessed by a spell that protects it them from witches and other evil things that plague the land. but that causes it to However, Brigadoon appears only once every 100 years.

The men are invited to enjoy the festivities for the day, during which Tommy and the beautiful Fiona MacLaren (Maria Gracia Rivas) fall in love.

Tommy resists struggles with leaving Fiona, but Jeff convinces him that Brigadoon is no place for a 21st-century American, and the couple tearfully part. Yet Tommy and Fiona’s love is too strong to keep them apart; when Tommy returns to the Highlands, the inhabitants of Brigadoon awaken and the couple is reunited for eternity.

As the two traveling friends, O’Hara and Armar provided a strong contrast to the Brigadoon townspeople. O’Hara’s endearingly romantic side was well balanced by Armar’s quick delivery and biting humor. Armar had a particularly powerful stage presence, moving about the stage with intention and refreshing confidence, making the most of his role.

Rivas, as playing the delicate Fiona, carried herself with grace and charm. Despite some difficulty with the microphones and Scottish accents, Rivas’s voice was pure, and it soared in the difficult music.

A pleasant surprise was dancer Janine Baumgardner, as playing Fiona’s newlywed sister, Jean. Baumgardner stunned the audience with her self-choreographed dance solo; she commanded the stage with professional precision and fluid movement rarely seen in young dancers.

Miles Butler, as playing her husband, Charlie Dalrymple, had an expressive and emotional voice and was an excellent accompaniment to Baumgardner’s beautiful dance.

The ensemble gave Brigadoon a small-town feel. Although the accents proved difficult to maintain and keep consistent, the actors’ body language spoke far louder than their words.

The true power of the musical, however, came from the musicians of the pit orchestra. From the first notes to the very last, the pit orchestra galloped, chased, calmed and romanced the audience, transporting the entire auditorium to mysterious Scotland. With effortless exactness, each player helped lay down the mood of the scenes, providing a marvelous soundtrack upon which the actors could build.

“Brigadoon” was a pleasing show that made its message loud and clear: Love is stronger than any magic or mystery.

By Washington Post Editors  |  November 25, 2008; 11:27 AM ET
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