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Posted on Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 4:40 a.m.

Review: Kilts a-plenty, plus loads of talent in U-M theater department's enchanting 'Brigadoon'

By Roger LeLievre


Holland Mariah Grossman as Fiona MacLaren and Joe Carroll as Tommy Albright in "Brigadoon."

photo by Peter Smith Photography

Aye, ’t was a bonny “Brigadoon” that opened Thursday night at Power Center, performed with a near-magical touch by students from the University of Michigan Department of Musical Theatre and deftly directed by Linda Goodrich.

Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) and Frederick Loewe’s (music) first theatrical collaboration tells the story of a quaint Scottish town that emerges from the mist for one day every 100 years. When Tommy and Jeff, on vacation from the United States, stumble upon the town, the former falls in love with lovely local lass Fiona, forcing him to choose between the life he left behind or love in uncertain circumstances.

The set is sparse, yet it has an inviting warmth that drew me in. The costumes, with tartans representing six Scottish clans, are exquisite (credit costume designer Shawn McCulloch). And there are kilts a-plenty, which would have pleased my part Scots grandmother who, when she got excited, often lapsed into the kind of Scottish burr the cast did such a good job affecting.

The dancing seemed complicated. yet confidently executed. A huge bravo to choreographer Mark Espositio and his charges, who kicked up a mean Highland fling. The wedding scene where the men danced around their sabers was especially well done, and drew a well-earned round of applause.

Joe Carroll and Will Burton (Tommy and Jeff) show a comfortable camaraderie portraying opposite types. Tommy is clearly open to the idea of a place such as Brigadoon, while Jeff plays his more cynical opposite, with Burton displaying a flair for comedic/sarcastic delivery. Both sing beautifully, and the duets that team Carroll and Holland Mariah Grossman (Fiona), especially “Almost Like Being in Love,” are some of the show’s loveliest.

Dereck Seay makes a terrific about-to-be wed Charlie Dalrymple; his bravura version of the signature “I’ll Go Home With Bonnie Jean” was a highlight of the first act. Grace Morgan’s portrayal of Meg Brockie is also memorable, thanks in part to her spunky version of “The Love of My Life.”

A bagpipe player outside Power Center before the show began helped set the mood; the instrument was also employed in the second act during the funeral dance with its dramatic solo from Laura Irion. The program listed two pipers, Christopher Gullen and Colin Brown - you guys did a great job with what can be a difficult instrument to enjoy if poorly played.

During the lavish wedding scene I had to remind myself that cast members really were students, so professional were they in their performance, a trait audiences have come to expect from the U-M musical theater folk.

“Brigadoon” is an old-fashioned a romance with a happy ending and, especially with this production, there’s nary a thing wrong with that. Those lucky enough to a score a ticket for the remaining shows (so many seats were sold early that another performance was added) are in for an enchanting Scottish treat.

“Brigadoon” continues Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 p.m. in Power Center. Call 734-764-2538 or visit The best remaining seats are for the recently added Saturday matinee.



Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

@Halter - I'm thrilled that you're looking forward to seeing the show. I got to see it during a dress rehearsal on Tuesday and was in awe at the incredible talent of our students. I can recommend continuing to try to upgrade your season ticket seating as there is always some movement. Your best bet is to renew as soon as possible since change requests are fulfilled in the order they are received. In answer to your very valid question as to why we don't run the spring musical for two weeks: Unfortunately, we are restricted from presenting a show after classes end for the semester. With the timing of spring break and scheduling conflicts with other shows in the SMTD season, we are also unable to move the spring musical to earlier in April. Thus, our options for adding performances are limited. For previous well-sold spring musicals, we have often made tickets available for the final dress rehearsal. In the case of "Brigadoon," we chose to add the Saturday matinee. @Dotdash - I'm sorry you weren't able to get 4 together. I'm guessing that you ordered tickets online? Our current ticketing system has some limitations in choosing what it considers the best seats. We are very excited to be changing ticketing systems this summer, which will allow internet buyers to choose their own seats. In the meantime, I would strongly recommend calling the ticket office at 734-764-2538 and they will be able to move your party so that you can all sit together. Sincerely, Kerianne M. Tupac Marketing & Communications Director, UM-SMTD University Productions


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

It was a wonderful show. It was amazing how the choreographer and director were able to design a huge cast to take advantage of the stage and the audience entrances/exits. The students executed the dances and movements as Broadway players. The voices could be heard, even in the back row. My only criticism was that the female singers in the Scottish accent were generally hard to understand. Indeed it was one of the best productions in recent years.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 1:50 p.m.

I just tried to get tickets to the newly-added Sat matinee, and couldn't get 4 together, even in the last row (no big deal, but it is a sign that demand outstrips supply...)


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 12:07 p.m.

Thanks for the great review, can't wait to see it myself -- UM Musical Theater presents the best and most professional musicals in Ann Arbor each spring, bar it should, befitting the fact that most of these kids will be in real Broadway shows or tours within the next few years. One thing that comes up every year, though -- there are never tickets available. Those of us who are lucky enough to get season tickets (and mine are awful -- second to last row on the side year after year with 'nary a chance for improvement), and the few people who order their tickets in August, are the only ones who get to see it....They really should add an entire second weekend to these productions, and they would still sell out every single performance. Not sure why UM hasn't done that over the years.