[THEATER REVIEW] ‘7 BRIDES FOR 7 BROTHERS’ (High Valley Arts Theater)

I must admit when I signed up for a ticket to the new revival of 7 Brides for 7 Brothers at the High Valley Arts Theater I didn’t realize how far away Midway was from my house. Had I done my homework and seen it was nearly an hour drive I might have reconsidered but now that I have seen it I’m glad I made the trip.

7 Brides for 7 Brothers is an adaptation of the 1954 film by director Stanley Donen starring Jane Powell and Howard Keel. Since it is one of those 1950s classic musicals a lot of people probably assume it was a stage musical first and then a film but the reverse is true. In fact, the stage version wasn’t made until 1982 and then it was retooled in various productions over the years. The 2007 revival is what is licensed and used my MTI for local productions like the one I went to in Midway.

I really enjoy outdoor productions, but often they come with poor sound quality and production values. Not the case here. I could hear every song well and everyone had a good view of the stage. There was a sizable crowd for a Wednesday night and the actors played to the crowd well making for a fun environment. They also did a great job with the choreography, which is always a highlight of this show.

Obviously a show like 7 Brides for 7 Brothers has to be taken with a big grain of salt. It’s a play off of the story of the Sabine Women as chronicled by Plutarch. It goes without saying that in a real-world setting this would be quite traumatic for women to be abducted from their homes but you have to put on your fantasy cap and realize it is ridiculous. Some people may have an easier time doing that than others and if that bothers you than this isn’t the show for you.

This version has Liz Crittenden playing Millie and Jake Jones as Adam and they have decent chemistry. Crittenden is particularly strong vocally and has a lot of fun bossing the hooligan brothers into shape! Like I said,I really enjoyed the choreography and the original songs and setpieces from the movie were a lot of fun. My favorite numbers are ‘Goin’ Courtin’, ‘ Wonderful, Wonderful Day’, and ‘Sobbin’ Women’. The barn dance is a highlight just as it is in the movie.

I only have 2 bones to pick with the show. The first is they cut out songs from the movie like ‘June Brides’ and ‘Lonesome Polecat/When You’re in Love’ only to replace them with bland forgettable songs. I honestly wasn’t a fan of any of the new songs found in just the musical. They were performed well so it’s not this production’s fault but they were all very bland. Evidently the show in 1982 only lasted 5 days and I can understand why because these new songs aren’t very good.

Also during intermission they had a rather lengthy presentation about a new arts center they want to build in Midway. While I understand wanting to promote their new endeavor the way it was done turned me off. It was too corporate and long. The gentleman also got a little too personal with a speech about how people should respect the flag and what American values should be. Again, I’m not opposed to some self-promotion but they should try to think of a better way to go about it. Here is information if you are interested.

Unfortunately 7 Brides for 7 Brothers only plays for one more day in Midway but if you get a chance to see a show there I recommend it. They have The Little Mermaid Jr coming up in November and that should be fun!

7 out of 10

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