Reviewed by Tom Jones
“Terrific Dancing Lights up Candlelight Stage with “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”
Before the show began I asked Jordan Centeno, an accomplished dancer who plays Brother Daniel, about the show’s dancing. His comment, “It is ‘heavy duty’ dancing!”
He was spot-on, as the dancing is nothing short of terrific! It was the dancing that caught the audience’s interest in the original movie musical in 1954, especially the barn-raising scene at the county social. The movie, starring Howard Keel and Jane Powell was honored a few years ago by the American Film Institute as one of the best American musical films ever made. This time around Choreographer Stephen Bertles and Dance Captain Tracey Zimmerman-Dennig have created exuberant dances, showcasing the incredible talents of a seasoned cast!
As a reminder, the “Seven Brides” are local girls in a mountain town, each eager for her own idea of prince charming to sweep her off her feet. The “Seven Brothers” are the Pontipee boys –seven young men living in a cabin in the mountains above the town. They are a rough-and-tumble group, raised by the oldest brother, Adam.
Adam, played by Travis Risner, comes to town to collect some supplies, including a bride, to take back to the cabin. He needs to find someone who will be not only his wife, but the cook and care-giver for his six wild brothers!
He stops for a bite to eat, is immediately smitten by Milly, played by Dominique N. Simmons. Milly’s parents are deceased, and she has nothing to keep her in the little town. She surprises even herself by accepting Adam’s invitation to be his wife, puts a few belongings in a bag, and they head to the mountain cabin. When we first met Adam, he was sporting an extremely off-putting black beard. But prior to heading to the mountains, he cleans up nicely, getting rid of the beard, and eventually flashes his torso to remind the audience that he is quite a hunk!
Milly is initially horrified to find Adam’s six brothers, most wearing dreadfully off-putting beards. They are interested in Adam’s new wife, and are good learners, as Milly provides them with some basic respectability – including table manners, the finer features of courting and dancing! She cleans them up quite nicely, removing the beards and turns them into a good looking family.
With their newly-found charm, the six brothers accompany Adam and Milly to the town’s Harvest Social, and the fireworks begin, as the brothers find six charming local girls to court, much to the dismay of the town’s boys – and the dueling dancers begin!
After returning to the cabin, the six brothers are restless for some female companionship and Adam hatches a plan to kidnap the six women from town, bringing them to the cabin. Yes, he plot thickens – delightfully so.
The show’s music is pleasant, with “Bless Your Beautiful Hide,” “Wonderful, Wonderful Day,” and “Goin’ Courtin.” Music that is reason to provide the great dancing is very good, less so when serving as love songs for the leads.
The show looks terrific. The set is probably the most ambitious and most rewarding ever provided for a show at The Candlelight. Tyler Clark is credited as master carpenter, Melissa Schrank as scenic designer, and Katie Dawson and Dustin Harley as scenic artists. Excellent music is provided by the orchestra, conduced by Angela Seiner, and featuring Randy Johnson, Josh Lively, Michael Vescovo, Dan Hoeye, Joe Chisholm and Donnie Norton.
The production is staged and directed by Mark Lively, centering the performance around the amazingly talented dancers. The six brothers include Dylan R. Hauck, Jake Elvig, Jordan Centeno, Jack Barton, Jon Tyler Heath and Jason Vargas. Their six brides are Heather McClain, Alberta Shulman, Alisha Winter-Hayes, Tracey Zimmerman Dennig, Sky Cash, and Michelle Sergeeff. Boys in the town who compete in the Harvest Social Dancing duel include Eric Heine, Josh Holcomb, Brian Newby, and Broc Timmerman.
Supporting roles are well-played by Nancy Conover, Stephen Turner, Marlin May, Christopher Walton and Rylee Vogel.
Seven happy brides result in seven happy brothers! On exiting the theater, a member of the audience noted, “Wasn’t that a fun show!”
“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”
Dates: September 4 – November 4, 2014
Where: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, 4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnson, CO 80534
Cost: $29.50 to $59.50
Box Office: 970-744-3747.