Jordan Cyphert, Austin Stang, Jillian Prefach, Justin Ostergard, Dick Baker, Michael McClure, and Adam Raque (front)
in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. Photo- Derby Dinner Playhouse
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Book by Lawrence Kasha and David Landay
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer, Music by Gene DePaul
Directed by Lee Buckholz
Review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2015 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
Have you ever noticed some of the most well known and cherished musicals handle some heavy subject matter? Fleeing from Nazi-occupied Austria in Sound of Music, the con man who rips off an entire town in The Music Man, and don’t even get me started on Oklahoma…the point is, Broadway has hashed out some brilliant works where characters have to withstand unpleasant situations for a happy ending. Derby Dinner Playhouse recently opened Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, a whimsical tale of young men influenced by the Rape of Sabine to kidnap local girls for wives and the one woman who must change these men for the better. Yes, I realize I’m being too literal about these stories and that the main intention is to entertain. And Derby Dinner does well to produce a charmingly entertaining night of musical theater.
The script for this well loved musical lends itself to light hearted laughs and sweeping dance numbers. Throughout the production, the cast works well as a comedic ensemble. Sight gags involving the crew of brothers peeping through all the while protecting their modesty as well as a mighty pratfall involving a bed and a misunderstood moment of intimacy resulted for quite a few laughs. A nice touch throughout the production involved actors carrying their own instruments on stage. Although I could not tell for sure if they were playing along with the music, that element would have added to the rustic feel of the Oregon frontier. (ed. note: it has been confirmed that they do indeed play those instruments)
Dancing for this show is incredibly important. If you don’t have great dancers or a great choreographer for Seven Brides, you don’t have a show. Luckily, this production has both. The choreography during the barn-raising scene is clever and impressive, as two sets of men vie for the affections of the women of the town. “Going Courtin” injects movement that is both chivalrous and masculine in the clumsy brutish band of brothers.
Jillian Prefach plays Millie and Edward Miskie plays her husband Adam, the eldest of the Pontipee brothers. Where Miskie exudes burly manhood doused in chauvinism, Prefach counteracts his backwards thinking with independent, forward thinking. In Millie, Prefach portrays a character who no other option but to progress. In “Wonderful Day,” her character is whisked away in romantic ideas of a new life, only to come to a startling reality in “I Married Seven Brothers.” Prefach is strong and not afraid even when standing up to Miskie’s Adam. Although conflict runs between the two throughout, Prefach and Miskie do well to hold on to the romantic elements right until their happy ending.
As an ensemble, the six Pontipee brothers are as goofy as they are delightful. A roughhousing group of slovenly young men, these actors (Justin Ostergard, Michael McClure, Jordan Cyphert, Austin Stang, Dick Baker and Adam Raque) bring grace to all of their efforts as they grow in to gentlemen. As these rugged mountaineers make their transition to socially acceptable men, the performances are emphasized with the right amount of giddiness especially when flirting with potential wives.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is simply a classic musical and Derby Dinner Playhouse has put together a production that delight.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
March 31 – May 10, 2015
Derby Dinner Playhouse
525 Marriott Drive
Clarksville, IN 47129
Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for Leo Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!