ST. GEORGE — St. George Musical Theater started off 2020 hooting, hollering and banging with their production of the classic Western musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”
Set in the 1850s, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” tells the story of grizzly backwoodsman Adam Pontipee (played on alternate nights by Tyson Chanticleer and Jared Davis) who leaves his mountain cabin in search of a bride.
Adam finds Milly McFadden (Emilie Laudie/Rachel Cox) cooking and chopping wood at the town tavern and decides she is the gal for him. After a brief (very brief) courtship, Milly agrees to marry Adam against the advice of the townsfolk and go with him to his cabin.
All seems to be going well, and it looks like an auspicious start to a wonderful life, but when Milly arrives at her new home with her new husband she is shocked to find out that Adam’s six ill-mannered brothers – Benjamin (Aaron Meadows), Caleb (Carter Leonard), Daniel (Benjamin Sullivan), Ephraim (Jefferson Beatty), Frank (Jaxon Keeler) and Gideon (Justin Gibbs) – all live there too.
St. George Musical Theater’s stage adaptation of the 1954 film of the same name couldn’t be more well suited to the in-the-round-style production for which the theater company is famous.
Patrons leave the outside world and walk into the woods of Oregon complete with log cabins, bunk beds, giant trees and rocks. It is a totally immersive experience.
This is in part due to Chanticleer, who in addition to playing the lead role on alternating nights is also credited with set design and fight choreography.
Speaking of fights, the theater’s production of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” is a wild and rambunctious show that is dominated by scenes of chaotic fighting and one-upmanship between brothers and brothers and brothers and townsfolk.
It is a credit to director Kelly Olsen that the chaos highlights the show rather than detracts from it, and Olsen successfully imagined then executed multiple scene changes and navigated a large high-energy cast through the small theater.
Leading the cast of characters is Chanticleer’s rendition of Adam Pontipee who is a simultaneously burly, bordering on scarily dominating man’s man, and a sweet talking lover capable of making hearts swoon throughout the audience.
Chanticleer is balanced by his arguably better half in Laudie’s Milly McFadden, who plays the spunky adventurer with panache.
The couple’s relationship offers the audience a deep look at love and relationships that, in its quieter moments, balances out the cacophony of the rest of the show.
The production’s leads have been double cast so patrons will get a slightly different experience depending on which night they go.
That said, it is the relationship between the six brothers and the six town girls they abduct that brings out most of the laughs and joy as the once ill-behaved mountain men learn how to navigate a world of women.
“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” is filled with classic songs such as “Bless Your Beautiful Hide,” “Going Courtin,” “Lonesome Polecat” and “Sobbin’ Women” each of which adds a sense of nostalgia for the beloved film to the stage.
Olsen has assembled a large cast of incredible singers, dancers and actors who fill the intimate theater to the brim. A few standouts include Meadows as Benjamin, who steals the stage as a dancer, and Gibbs as youngest brother Gideon, who has an adorable courtship with Alice, played by Brynlee Lott.
The characters of Mr. Hoallum (Stacey Johnson), Mr. Sander (Dave Markel) and Preacher Perkins (Jason Stout) provide some of the most soul-stirring harmonies of the entire production when they pray to have their women protected from the brothers.
The show is aided by colorful costumes designed by Gwendolyn Dattage and a host of technical aspects, including stage effects, lighting, sound, projections and videography led by Jennifer Davis and backed by a talented tech crew.
Overall the production is a wild musical ride that is knee-slapping good fun but one that also asks the audience to examine love, relationships and life in a harsher, less hospitable world.
St. George Musical Theater’s production of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” plays Thursdays through Saturdays and Mondays at 7:30 p.m. at the St. George Opera House, 212 N. Main St. in St. George. Matinees will be held Feb. 1, 8 and 15 at 2 p.m.
- What: St. George Musical Theater’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”
- When: Thursdays-Saturdays and Mondays, 7:30 p.m. until Feb. 22. Matinees will be held Feb. 1, 8 and 15 at 2 p.m.
- Where: St. George Opera House, 212 N. Main St., St. George.
- Cost: $19-$23.
- Purchase tickets: Online or at the box office located at the opera house. The box office opens at 6:30 p.m. on show nights. Group rates are available by calling 435-628-8755.
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