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DOES NOT BEAR SCRUTINY
23 Apr 2016
We went to opening night of Brigadoon tonight and I was struck, as I often am, by the importance of not looking too closely at the plot.
There were people I overheard in the lobby after the show who were seeing Brigadoon (which started on Broadway in 1947 and was made into a movie with Gene Kelley, Van Johnson and Cyd Charisse in 1954) for the first time, and were surprised because it was definitely not what they expected. So in case there are readers unfamiliar with the show, Brigadoon is a village in the highlands of Scotland which, because of a "miracle," explained in the story, disappears every night and reappears for one day every 100 years. The townsfolk go to sleep and when they wake up, 100 years have passed. The story starts on day 3 of the miracle, when two lost American hikers stumble upon the village on its one day of existence. Tommy falls in love with Fiona and has to decide if he's going to live in Brigadoon, knowing that tomorrow will be 100 years in the future, or return to his unsatisfying life in New York and his fiancée whom he does not really love.
Having seen this show -- and most musicals -- many times, my brain does tend to wonder throughout the performance and think a bit too critically about what is going on on stage. I don't mean "critically" in a critic way, but just in how the writers crafted the plot.
The heroine of this story is Fiona, who is about to help her sister celebrate her wedding. Fiona is lonely, but when her friends as if there isn't someone special in her life, she says no and talks about she is "waiting for her dearie." This is all well and good and sets up the love at first sight with Tommy, but in reality it makes no sense. Brigadoon is a small village and chances are she knows everybody in town and if she hasn't met her "dearie" by now, the chance of her running into someone who will set her heart aflutter, is slim to none.
For that matter, given community theater productions of this musical, where chorus women far outnumber the chorus men, it would seem that there is one man for every half dozen girls in town, and no chance of introducing new testosterone ever.
Also, perhaps in the 18th century, when the "miracle" occurred, the possibility of urban sprawl was not considered, but suppose on day 4 or 5, which would be 400 or 500 years in the future, Brigadoon pops up but there is now a big city where it wants to appear again.
These are the odd thoughts that go through my mind while otherwise enjoying the show.
But most musicals should not be too closely scrutinized. I had lunch with my friend Kathy today. She and a friend are about to take a trip to New York and are going to see a revival of The King and I, another show I like. She talks about how she cries at the end, when the king is dying.
This is another one of those "not bloody likely" scenarios. There is sexual tension between the King and Anna all throughout the show, but think about it. The guy has a harem, for Pete's sake. He probably has a hundred women at his beck and call. If that tension had been acknowledged, what good would it do?
I think we are seeing two productions of The Music Man, maybe my favorite of the classic musicals, this year. Now there's a show you definitely should not think about too carefully. Harold Hill is this slick, smooth talking salesman who comes to town to swindle the people out of money buying band instruments and uniforms for their kids (I always wondered how much money he makes on the deal, because the kids do get instruments and uniforms, so Hill has to send some of his money to someone).
He falls in love with Marian, the spinster librarian, who knows he's a phony, but ultimately doesn't care. In the show, the town forgives him, he decides to give up his criminal ways and the show ends with the orchestra playing "76 Trombones" while the cast marches up and down the square.
But think of it. Hill has a reputation for sweet talking women in every town he visits. "He's taken it away from all of them," the anvil salesman tells Marian. "It" seems pretty clear what he has taken from these women.
So is this professional roué going to be happy settling down in a little cottage in River City Iowa with only one woman for the rest of his life ... and how is he going to make a living when his only talent is for swindling? Divorce seems to be the ultimate ending for this relationship.
But these shows are fairy tales and in fairy tales, everybody always lives "happily ever after," unless the play you are in is Into the Woods, where Act 2 tells what really happens after "happily ever after."
These are the odd thoughts of someone who had a weird night,
sleep-wise, and just never "came to" today until the show started.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Marian and Harold...happily ever after? Really?
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