Long before lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe cemented their places as musical theater icons with My Fair Lady and Camelot, the scored their first Broadway hit with an original romantic fable, Brigadoon.
Although it ran a respectable 581 performances in the 1947-48 season, it has since been overshadowed by the songwriting team’s other shows and is rarely revived. Those wondering why can find an answer at The Wick Theatre, whose current production seems intent on slipping into each of the show’s numerous pitfalls.
Brigadoon is the name of a mythical Scottish village that a pair of vacationing New Yorkers stumble onto while hunting in the highlands. Because of a miracle – oy, don’t ask – it materializes in the mist for only one day each century. During that day, incurable romantic Tommy Albright falls in love with villager Fiona MacLaren and mulls giving up his Manhattan life to become a permanent resident of Brigadoon.
The show lives squarely in the realm of fantasy, of course, but to work it has to be rooted in some reality. And all too often, the Wick production breaks the spell with head-scratching staging – awkward actions and tableau-like inactions – from director Jeffrey B. Moss (Guys and Dolls).
Nor is the idyllic nature of Brigadoon conveyed by the drab, craggy scenic design by Randel Wright, one of the most unattractive, cumbersome sets for a musical in memory.
Fortunately, there is that unsinkable Lerner and Loewe score, brimming with hit songs while remaining specific to the narrative situation. Lerner had not yet blossomed as the puckish wordsmith that would become his signature, but his bottomlesss romanticism is evident in such numbers as “Almost Like Being in Love,” “The Heather on the Hill” and “There But For You Go I.” And from the start of his Broadway career, Loewe was cranking out a surfeit of lush melodies to match Lerner’s poetry.
Also helping to counteract the production’s flaws is the Wick cast, headed by the vocal power of Lauren Weinberg (Fiona) and, in his Wick debut, Matthew Taylor (Tommy). Frankly, they seem to be a couple of quarts low on chemistry, but you can’t have everything.
The reliable Wayne LeGette is a standout as Tommy’s cynical sidekick, Jeff, and Mychal Phillips scores as randy Meg Brockie, sort of a Scottish version of Oklahoma’s Ado Annie.
Maybe it is due to being asleep for 100 years, but the Brigadoon villagers seem ready to dance at the slightest provocation. Choreographer Lindsay Bell’s work is clearly influenced by Agnes de Mille – who won the show’s only Tony Award in 1947 – and, in a second act histrionic Funeral Dance, in the style of Martha Graham, expressively performed by Elizabeth Troxler.
Despite some creaking in its script, Brigadoon remains a timeless tale, even if director Moss felt the need to add in unnecessary references to Google Maps and cellphones. And at an $85 ticket price, the Wick continues its disappointing use of recorded music.
BRIGADOON, The Wick Theatre, 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton. Through Sunday, April 8. $85. 561-995-2333 or visit thewick.org.