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Croswell’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” is one of their best summer shows ever (Review) August 11, 2012

Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, Community Theater, musical theater, Musicals, Theatre.
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I am starting with ticket information for Croswell Opera house — online at croswell.org, or by phone at 517-264-7469. Quit reading — go order tickets — then come back.

Erin Satchell Yuen as Milly, and Steven Antalek as Adam (photo copyright Croswell Opera House)

Croswell Opera House opened one of their finest musicals ever last night — the adapted-from-the-movie musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The show pinpoints exactly everything that Croswell does right — a great cast with a pitch-perfect full orchestra, a fine set and costumes, more talent on stage and behind than the Pontipee boys could shake a rope at, and a rousing standing-ovation audience pleaser to boot.

Based on the favorite 1954 Hollywood musical, the show follows the Pontipee clan brothers as they seek out wives for themselves in 1850’s Oregon. How they go about getting those wives is the tale that is told in the brisk two and a half hour production. There is no definitive script/score for 7B47B, only the one that MTI provides in the moment — and this one is the 2007 revised version (because it sure isn’t the original early’80’s version which I was in almost thirty years ago).

The star of the evening is Jodi Adkins Hissong’s athletic choreography the likes of which the Croswell stage has not seen in many a moon. The Brothers, the Brides, and the supporting cast fly (sometimes literally) through many many numbers, favorites being “Goin’ Courtin'” and the spectacular “Challenge/Cut in Dance” at the harvest social. The latter received extended applause not heard in the house for years.

Erin Satchell Yuen as Milly and Steven Antalek as Adam Pontipee turn in solid performances, and both seem born to play these parts. The Brothers are played by David Blackburn (Benjamin); Ben Andre (Caleb); Ryan Chang (Daniel); Zane Dickerson (Ephraim); Joshua Moller (Frank); and Matthew Pettrey (Gideon). Their camaraderie on stage is equal to their singing and dancing, and they are a joy to behold.  Equally at ease on stage with singing and dancing requirements are the Brides: Samantha Bretz (Alice); Caitlin Christenson (Dorcus); Mary Hofmeister (Ruth); Jocelyn Near (Liza); Emily Kapnick (Martha); and Allison Steele (Sarah).  Together, they are a force to be reckoned with.

The large (but never cluttered) ensemble supports the action, and together with the leads turn in some of the most charismatic and entertaining performances ever at Croswell. The audience was positively abuzz throughout the production, and the standing ovation was well-deserved.

The performers are wrapped in lovely packaging in the form of Rachel Buechele’s colorful costumes; Terrence Hissong’s Scenic Design; and fine efforts in lighting, sound, and technical design. (Note that on opening night, there were both mic-related glitches as well as spotlight-mess that will surely resolve over the coming performances). Stage Manager Kent Sprague has his hands full to be sure, and he keeps things running at a brisk and comfortable pace throughout. Snow falls (both onstage and in the audience); wood splits; crashes resound; the unit-set works perfectly; and it all serves to entertain. Music Director Wynne Marsh keeps everything onstage and in the pit sounding remarkable.

Brian Hissong directs the entire affair with a sure hand, and he gets marvelous things from his performers. Choreography and Directing often overlap, and it appears seamless.

Go see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and enjoy an evening out in beautiful downtown Adrian, MI. Get your tickets immediately before they are all gone — buy them now, thank me later. Its one of the best things I have seen onstage regionally in many years — professional or non-professional.