Review: Animated dance numbers make Pittsburgh CLO's 'Seven Brides' a delight
When people reminisce about the 1954 movie of “Seven Brides and Seven Brothers,” it's not long before they begin gushing about Michael Kidd's choreography.
Sure, they have fond memories about its stars Howard Keel and Jane Powell and one or two of Johnny Mercer and Gene de Paul's original songs in from the MGM movie classic.
But it's images of high-stepping robust, athletic male dancers and their spirited female partners that linger vividly in the brain.
Choreography is also the high point of the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera production that is running through June 16 at the Benedum Theater, Downtown.
Director and choreographer Sha Newman has spared no dancer's joints or ligaments in her effort to give the audience a gloriously invigorated, boisterous and high-spirited evening of dance numbers.
The musical's seven Pontipee brothers, their brides – actual or intended – and the women's half dozen unsuccessful suitors literally soar, swoop, tumble, tussle, leap and sashay effortlessly and gymnastically.
Aided by their youthfulness, talent and training the ensemble dances on without so much as a pause for breath while leaving the audience breathless.
Script writers Lawrence Kasha and David Landay set their musical to the backwoods of Oregon, circa 1850 where a family of seven adult brothers delegate elder brother Adam to get a bride while he's in town so they will have someone to cook and clean for them.
As Adam Pontipee and his bride Milly, Greensburg native and Pittsburgh CLO veteran George Dvorsky and Mamie Parris display an instant attraction that makes their 15-minute courtship appear plausible, though incautious, even by musical comedy standards.
Dvorsky's charmingly awkward Adam minimizes the character's more domineering attributes while Parris's equally smitten Milly's decision to marry Adam shows a spirit that is more adventurous than naïve.
After discovering that she has unkowningly added six additional men to her life and work Milly sets out to civilize them into marriage material.
Impatient with mid-19th Century courting, the brothers shorten the process by kidnapping six young women who end up trapped on the ranch when an avalanche blocks the road.
Scenic designer Anna Louizos provides a suitably rustic setting of snow-capped mountains, towering rough-barked pines and a log cabin dwelling for the proceedings.
But there are still some snags.
On opening night the Pittsburgh CLO production was marred with technical glitches and errors involving scenic changes and microphones as well as some punches that fell short of their intended targets. Those should be remedied by the time you read this.
The show is an old-fashioned musical and a perennial favorite of Pittsburgh CLO audiences.
But some of the its outdated male mindsets will not fit comfortably with everyone.
That was made clear early on when Adam's order to Milly to sit down drew a collective gasp from the audience.
To temper those moments the current production features some new, less misogynistic songs by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn — “Love Never Goes Away,” “Glad You Were Born” and “Where Were You” that will connect better with contemporary audiences.
What remains timelessly delightful is Newman's choreography and the ensemble of young, irrepressibly animated dancers.
Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Concert aims to heal wounds of Armstrong veterans
- Grant helps Armstrong agency provide cribs to needy families
- 2B Walker, Pirates smash through Tigers pitching in road victory
- Rossi: Wild Wednesday proves Steelers rule
- Penguins get their man in making trade with Toronto for Kessel
- Armstrong fire departments sharpen river rescue skills
- Penguins notebook: Rutherford proves savvy in deal
- Starkey: Rutherford hits jackpot with Kessel
- Pirates notebook: Cole cool about hostile comment
- DVD reviews: ‘Get Hard,’ ‘The Gunman’ and ‘While We’re Young’
- W. Elizabeth mulls cost of new garage