By Tara DeLorenzo
Witty, whimsical and wonderful, Westminster’s College of the Arts’ rendition of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers had the audience ready to run off with the hysterical, swoon-worthy mountain men and the graceful, yet playful dancing girls.
Based on the MGM film and Stephen Vincent Benét’s short story,“The Sobbin’ Women,” this production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, directed by assistant professors of performing arts Nathan Hurwitz and Robin Lewis, is a tale of love and of doing whatever it takes to make love happen. The show ran from April 24-28 in the Bart Luedeke Center Theater.
Opening the play is Adam Pontipee, the eldest of the seven brothers, played by Eddie Brandt, a freshman popular music culture major, who comes to town looking for a wife. In a town of traditional villagers, no one is used to Adam’s pioneer-woodsman ways.
Proud, spunky and wistful Milly, portrayed by junior musical theater major Samantha Penick, sees more than just a man looking for a wife in Adam; she sees an escape from her provincial life and a place of peace with just the two of them — or so she thinks.
So with the oh-so-romantic proposal of, “I ain’t got a woman, so how ’bout it?” Milly and Adam are hitched and are on their way to wedded bliss.
But Milly’s dream of a life hidden in the woods with Adam is shattered, as Adam’s six boisterous brothers, played by freshman musical theater majors Cody Cooley, Colby Dezelick, Matthew Fairlee, Kevin Corkum, Joshua Lawson and Jimmy McEvoy bumble out of the cabin. Suddenly she has not only become a wife to Adam, but also a housewife to men equivalent only to the lost boys from Peter Pan.
During an outstanding singing and dancing number, Milly works to civilize the boys, turning them from clumsy fools to elegant gentlemen who are ready to go courting and get married.
Heading into town, after Milly deems them ready, the men are smitten with six of the town girls.
Since they live miles from town, the brothers are forced to leave, unable to court the girls. Lovestruck and heartsick, the brothers develop a plan for the girls to be with them.
In the dark of the night, the brothers sneak into town and kidnap the six girls. Unfortunately, they accidentally forget the preacher to marry them all, leaving them trapped in their secluded farm until spring.
Quirky and playful, the production captivated the audience. There was terrific energy that emanated from the quick, quirky dialogue and extraordinary singing and acting.
With themes of family and enduring love, the cast put on a fantastic performance with outstanding dancing, stunning vocals and wonderful chemistry.
Fairlee, who played Adam’s brother Gideon, captured the hearts of the audience with his character’s quiet awkwardness and had everyone rooting for him and his love Alice, portrayed by freshman musical theater major Lilli Babb.
Notable too was the dancing, which was choreographed by Lewis. Male dance captain Dezelick, who played Adam’s brother Frank, was a standout along with freshman theater performance major Nicole Sheehan, who portrayed Frank’s love interest Sarah. With lifts and twirls, their chemistry sizzled.
All the dancing, each pair and performer was phenomenal, and with that, so were the vocals. Powerful enough to create goose bumps, Brandt and Penick’s harmonies were beautiful and impeccable, as were the full cast harmonies.
The costumes and sets were authentic and elaborate, making this 1850’s Oregon woods cabin become real in the production. Woodsy and strong, the sets transitioned easily from the rustic cabin to reveal the town’s vibrant atmosphere
With signs warning of gunshots that will be fired in the second act and hearing that it is a play centered on Stockholm syndrome, expectations were dark. Instead the play was exciting and riveting and was one that was not to be missed.
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Printed in the 5/3/13 edition.