Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Washington Community Theater’s production of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," which is being presented this weekend, is an entertaining musical that showcases young local talent and makes for a pleasant, enjoyable evening at the theater.
Seven Brides started out as a popular 1954 MGM movie musical starring Howard Keel and Jane Powell. It won an Oscar for Best Original Score and was recently named as one of the top 25 movie musicals of all time by the American Film Institute.
The stage adaptation of this classic movie debuted nearly 30 years later, opening on Broadway in 1982. That is the version being presented this weekend, under the direction of Jennifer Wagner and Beth McBride.
If you’ve seen and enjoyed the movie, you’ll find the stage version familiar and satisfying. The musical numbers include favorites from the movie, such as “Bless Your Beautiful Hide,” “Goin’ Courtin’,” “Sobbin’ Women,” “Lonesome Polecat,” and “June Bride.” The local production focuses less on dancing and more on singing than did the MGM film, of course, but with the talents of the local performers, you won’t mind a bit.
The story centers on the Pontipee brothers — yes, there are seven of them — who live in the mountains of Oregon in 1850. Adam (played by Will Hart), the oldest brother and head of the family, decides it’s time to get married, so he goes into town to find a bride. There he meets the lovely Milly (Abby Heim), who is ready for a change. The two are quickly married, and Adam takes his new bride home to a jarring surprise: six new brothers-in-law for whom Milly is expected to cook and clean. She is daunted at first, but the strong-willed Milly soon takes charge and rises to the challenge.
After Milly teaches them a few manners, the brothers decide to find some wives of their own. Inspired by the story of the Sabine Women, they kidnap the young town ladies with whom they’ve become smitten, hauling them up to their cabin in the mountains in order to marry them. Unfortunately, they forget to kidnap a preacher to perform the ceremony, and when an avalanche closes the only pass back to town, they are stuck living in the barn for the winter while the girls, by Milly’s order, live in the house. The girls are angry with the boys at first, but soon their anger subsides, nature prevails, and the young couples fall in love.
It’s an entertaining show filled with delightful songs and plenty of laughs. The directors have put together a young, talented cast of local performers who will win you over with their charm.
Heim and Hart are outstanding in the leading roles. Heim’s performance as the sweet-but-strong Milly is wonderful. Her lovely singing voice suits the character perfectly. Hart, in his first WCT role, has an engaging stage presence and a strong voice.
Each of the performers playing the six younger brothers (Lane Walsh, Cale Rausch, Kendon Hanson, Ian Stakland, Jacob Bruns, and Wesley Tener) has his own standout moments that will make you smile. The same is true of the six lovely young ladies (Natalie Earnest, Zoe Wagner, Maddy Newhouse, Lena Adams, Natalie Trier, and Anne Buckwalter) who play their abducted love interests. The remaining cast members—13 in total (including perhaps the youngest actor in WCT history)—provide able support.
Credit goes to directors Wagner and McBride for assembling this ambitious production and guiding the performances of the actors and singers. The choreography, by Erin Trier Wade and Natalie Trier, lends itself well to the story, paying homage to the original movie in just the right places. Don Hughes ably directs the strong 13-piece orchestra. And Lisa Hughes and her skilled crew once again created the perfect costumes.
Behind the scenes, Nancy Salemink performed the important role of general chair for the show. Sally Hart is the show’s stage manager, while Jon Gloyer serves as technical director. The sets were designed by Michael Kramme and Chris Hanson, and the lighting was designed by Jeff Crone. Many other people, too numerous to mention individually, gave their time in other important roles, constructing and decorating the set, sewing costumes, working the box office, operating lights and sound systems, and/or handling props.
Performances of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, June 12-14, at 7:30 p.m., plus a Sunday matinee on June 15 at 2:30 p.m., at the Washington Community Center. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Don’t miss the show!