No sign of cabin fever here

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

The New Alexandra Theatre

*****

IT SEEMS that even from the beginning that the intended B movie, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, was destined to be the underdog that wins you over.

Back in 1959 it was the project of the nephew of Louis B Meyer, Jack Cummings at the MGM studios, who developed it from the Roman myth of the abduction of Sabine women. 

With half of its allotted budget redirected to the less successful Brigadoon, it ended up a studio picture with painted backdrops instead of being shot on location.

However after picking up an Oscar, time has proven it to be one of the most enduring and loved scores of the period and its transition to the stage in 1979 has since seen its popularity grow.

The key to this current touring production is the pin point accurate choreography by award winning director Patti Colombo that reflects the dynamic original film version with precision performances and stage acrobatics.

Unlike a film though, that has the benefits of cutting the action, the company deliver several full company routines that never miss a beat that would have the MGM bosses applauding.

As a plot I doubt Seven Brides would even be considered if it were thought of today as basically it’s about a bunch of six burley lumber jacks who abduct  a group of local girls and hold them hostage at their cabin home for the winter.

It’s all done in the best possible taste though and here in spectacular style.

Another underdog triumph on the night was the fact that the leading man Sam Attwater was out with a sore throat so it was down to the understudy Alex Hammond, apparently raised in Birmingham, to take over. Considering it was his first time at the helm he did a fantastic job and he led this cast with a great deal of confidence and charisma in his role as Adam.

Helena Blackman who plays Milly has developed into a strong leading lady with a fine voice.

Helena Blackman played MIlly and since being runner up in the BBC 1s ` Maria ‘ reality show has matured into a strong leading lady with an excellent singing voice.

What the producers of this show have also cashed in on is the outstanding physiques of the `brothers’, played respectively by Ross Meagrow, Joe Murphy, Jack Evans, Pip Hersee, Sam Stones and jack Greaves. As professional dancers they were fit enough to have lined up with the Chippendales and given several opportunities to part disrobe there were some very appreciative women in the audience who seem to thoroughly enjoy the display.

In the end though it is the combination of a great score, brilliant performances, outstanding choreography and pure energy that was the most revealing. With a full orchestra and a very inventive set it’s hard to see how this production, oozing with flair and originality, could be bettered.

When the original MGM film appeared in 1954 it won the favour of President  Eisenhower who said `If you haven’t seen it, you should see it ‘ and those words are as applicable now to this production as they were to the original film. To 08-02-14.

Jeff Grant

 

Meanwhile from among the trees . . .

****

MORE bad luck hit this theatre when the star of the American frontier dance musical had to miss opening night through a throat infection.

One audience was sent home from a performance of the Christmas show, Ghost, when technical faults couldn’t be corrected, and this time the jinx hit the cast.

Sam Attwater, of ITV’s Dancing on Ice fame, was forced to drop out, but one man’s misfortune proved another’s good luck when understudy Alex Hammond stepped up from his lesser role as one of the townspeople to play the lead.

Hammond was excellent as tough backwoodsman Adam Pontipee, striding the stage with great confidence and singing the big numbers, like Bless Your Beautiful Hide and Love never Goes Away, superbly.

He proved the ideal partner for the impressive Helena Blackman, playing Milly, who agrees to a quickie marriage to Pontipee after he omits to tell her she will be looking after her new husband and his six uncouth brothers in their untidy mountain home.

However, she soon tames the dirty half-dozen, teaches them how to dance and impress the opposite sex, and they join some of the young men and girls in the local town in some brilliantly choreographed numbers.

There is a real feel good factor about this delightful musical which sends you home humming songs like Wonderful Wonderful Day, Goin’ Courtin’ and Glad That You Were Born.

After seeing the original film, American President Eisenhower said: “If you haven’t seen it, you should see it.” I offer the same advice about this stage show. To 08-02-14

Paul Marston

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers will also be appearing at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre from March 31 to April 5.

 

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