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Burning Coal Theatre Company presents Brigadoon to kick off its 16th season

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Brigadoon, as you probably know, is a delightful fantasy about love and faith, in which two jaded New Yorkers stumble onto an unmapped Scottish village under a strange spell. The show started as a Lerner and Loewe musical, opening on Broadway in 1947. It was first made into a film in 1954 and has subsequently seen numerous remakes and revivals. Now Burning Coal Theatre Company presents its version in its Murphey School Auditorium to kick off its 16th season. If it seems a bit out of character for Burning Coal—well, times are hard just now, especially for small independent theater companies, and a feel-good musical such as Brigadoon can inspire patrons to purchase tickets and fill seats. Emily Ranii's understated production is well worth the ticket price; for a couple of hours you can escape your troubles and travel out of time.

Ranii handles the large cast and small "stage" with great skill (greatly aided by Robin Harris' lively but spatially contained choreography), even providing a semi-secluded bower for the musicians who play throughout. They are led by Julie Oliver, who does well in keeping them from drowning out the vocalists. Oliver also plays the wise old lady, Mrs. Lundie, who is designated to explain Brigadoon to any outsider who may happen upon it, and makes a delightful thing of the role.

But it is the two leads who make the show. Natalie Reder has a lovely voice. As the maiden Fiona McLaren, who falls in love at sight with the wandering American, Tommy, she gets the plum songs, and makes the most of them, swelling her clear soprano without apparent effort and never forsaking her Scottish burr. She has the audience in her hand from the first lines of "Waiting for My Dearie." When she's joined by that "dearie," played by Andrew Bosworth, and their well-matched voices twine together, as their song says, "It is Almost Like Being in Love."

Mikaela Saccoccio is sweet as the bonnie young bride Jean McLaren, and fleet-footed in the dances. Erin Tito is a stitch as the lusty milkmaid Meg Brockie, happily throwing a leg over the reluctant Jeff (James Anderson) and singing bawdy songs. Rebecca Bossen is hilarious as Tommy's American fiancée. A terrible sad thing does occur in Brigadoon: Archie Beaton's (Fred Corlett, who made me cry) son is killed, but the dramatic effect is to make us all the happier for happiness when it comes.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Head cases."

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