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‘Brigadoon’ Reawakens Show’s Old-Style Charms

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Romance, thy name is “Brigadoon.” First produced in 1947, Lerner & Loewe’s musical about an enchanted Scottish village is a bright and surprisingly durable Scottish tartan woven from a slender thread of plot.

Just don’t examine the material too closely, and you’ll find Musical Theatre West’s current production at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center a retro treat. In his straightforward, unabashedly sentimental staging, David Galligan makes no bones about what it is--an old-fashioned musical loaded with nostalgia and hummable tunes.

Dale Kristien, best known for her record-breaking run opposite Michael Crawford in “Phantom of the Opera,” makes for a winsome Fiona, the 18th century Scottish lass who loses her heart to a man from another world. Perry Stephens plays Tommy, Fiona’s lover, a modern-day American who gets lost in the Highlands and finds romance in Brigadoon, a magical hamlet that appears only once every 100 years.

In contrast to the effortlessly charismatic Stephens, Kristien can seem a shade stilted and bland. But that seems a quibble when she opens her mouth to sing. Kristien is a masterful songstress whose lushly operatic voice complements Stephens’ nightclub baritone on such standards as “The Heather on the Hill” and “Almost Like Being in Love.”

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The majority of the other featured performances are also treats. As Meg, the roundheeled milkmaid who is ever eager to cavort, Kim Huber twinkles her way through a broadly comic role. Bill Timoney deftly underplays the role of Jeff, Tommy’s caustic, puckish pal, whose disbelief is shaken by the miracle of Brigadoon. An accomplished actor-dancer, Chris Holly brings a brooding balleticism to Harry Beaton, the spurned lover who threatens to break Brigadoon’s spell forever. Brian Maples’ Charlie has a lilting Irish tenor that could have been channeled by Dennis Day. And in a performance as fiery as her hair, Kimberly Mikesell sets the stage ablaze with her passionate “Funeral Dance.”

Some amateurish elements lessen the luster. Errant Scottish dialects are a persistent problem among the large ensemble, and a few prosaic performances rudely interrupt the overall professionalism.

Still, Galligan, musical director Lloyd Cooper and Mark Esposito, whose choreography is based on Agnes de Mille’s original dances, smooth over those rough spots and marshal their large cast with impressive agility. A stroll in the gloaming down memory lane, this “Brigadoon” still enchants.

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* “Brigadoon,” Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 Atherton St., campus of Cal State Long Beach. Tonight through Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 and 7 p.m. Ends Sunday. $20-$38. (562) 430-2324. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes.


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