In these turbulent times of financial difficulty, complicated cultural relationships, and fear running rampant through society, it was clear Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was the breath of fresh air that the audience was looking for. Now running at the 5th Avenue Theatre, this musical comedy is sure to leave you feeling light-hearted.
Based on a 1954 musical of the same name, the story is based on a short story by Stephen Vincent Benet. The movie was a big hit, receiving 7 Oscar nominations, winning two – for Best Music and Best Scoring of a Musical Picture. The movie was then turned into a Broadway play in 1982
Perhaps in a nod to what was believed to be the undeveloped Wild West, the story was set in the Oregon wilderness. It tells the story of Adam Pontipee, a gruff mountain man who leaves the mountain to go into town and find a bride. He meets Milly, they’re married ten minutes later, and Adam whisks her off to his mountain cabin – neglecting to tell her about his six roughneck brothers who also are living in the cabin.
Refusing to be cowed by the roughshod lifestyle on the mountain, nor the uncouthness of sweet at heart brothers, Milly undertakes an ultimate makeover – turning the brothers into suitable marriage prospects. A trip into the local town for a dance has the boys dreaming about the girls they’ve met and would like to court.
Of course, this is a musical comedy and nothing can go quite according to plan!
The impatient brothers, not content to take the time to court the lovely ladies, sneak off into town. They steal away with ladies, kidnapping them and taking them back to the mountains, where an avalanche promptly snows them in. The men and women spend the winter courting in a non-traditional fashion, and come spring you know there will be a wedding.
Despite the predictable plot, the energetic performances of the cast had the audience smiling and laughing. At the conclusion of the barn dance, complete with dueling dancers, (in photo above) the audience stopped the show, cheering loudly for well over a minute. That might not seem like a long time from the audience perspective, but for the men on stage holding their dance partners during the applause, I wondered who would give out first – the cheering audience or the cast.
Casting was credible, although not particularly inspired. Adam is handsomely rugged, with a couple ounces of charm thrown in, and Milly is the charming gal next door. The brothers and town girls delivered solid dancing and singing performances, endearing themselves in quirky, if not downright silly, ways. You couldn’t help but root for these people, even though you knew where it was all going to end up.
I think the success of this production is its simplistic plot, engaging us in a way that is uncomplicated, straightforward, and light. Life doesn’t need to be a struggle all the time, and for those hours at the 5th Avenue Theatre Friday night, it wasn’t.
Location: 1308 5th Avenue, downtown (map it)
Dates & Times: December 3rd – 28th, 2008. Tuesday & Wednesday, 7:30 pm; Thursday & Friday, 8 pm; Saturday 2 & 8 pm; Sunday, 1:30 & 7 pm.
Tickets: $22-81. Purchase tickets online.
I doubt that Seven Brides for Seven Brothers will ever be a musical of the long running, perpetual hit variety. It is, however, the the right production at the right time, and I think it will be a big audience favorite during these unstable times.
Enjoy this video trailer of the performance:
Image credit: Chris Bennion, used with permission of the 5th Avenue Theatre