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'Brigadoon' opens Corn Stock's summer season

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Love, fantasy, music and dance… What else does a community theatre need to ensure a successful opening to its season?

The answer is a show audiences know, songs they are familiar with being performed by some of the area’s top singers and dancers. In “Brigadoon,” which opens on Friday to lift the curtain on Corn Stock Theatre’s summer season under the tent at Upper Bradley Park, director Peggy Breaux-Hupp has the right ingredients.

“This is an old-school show. Its appeal is that it is from the old vault of Broadway shows, the grand musical with wonderful songs and beautiful ballet. It brings back so many feelings for me and I think it will do the same for our audiences,” Hupp said.

She said she first fell in love with “Brigadoon” when she performed in it at Peoria Players Theatre in 1977. So when asked to direct it to open the 2015 season  ̶  the third season opener she has directed in the last four year  ̶  Hupp said she jumped at the chance.

“I knew I wanted to direct this show some day, so I wasn’t about to miss this opportunity. I love the tent and directing shows out here. This is a perfect show for Corn Stock,” she said.

From the beautiful tones of the bagpipes being played by Jon Blickenstaff to the final notes of its finale, the Corn Stock production will transport audience members to Scotland for a bit of magic.

“Brigadoon,” written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, is about two American tourists, Tommy and Jeff, who come upon a Scottish village called Brigadoon that appears for only one day every one hundred years. Tommy falls in love with Fiona, a beautiful young woman from the village. But the plot from there is anything but predictable as Tommy must make a choice only he can make.

In many ways, Hupp said, it is more than your typical Broadway musical love story. “This show is really magical. Going back in time, the fantasy surrounding the love story, the music and dance  ̶  it’s all there and we’ve gather incredible actors, singers and dancers to bring it all out,” she said.

She said many of the leads are not only young, but portraying lead characters for the first time. That, she added, brings a unique kind of energy to their performances. “What is great is that the chemistry between the main leads has been wonderful,” Hupp said.

The cast of 42 includes Zack Stein, in his first show in several years, as Tommy Albright and Logan Henderson as Jeff Douglas. Fiona MacLaren is portrayed by Lyndsay Byers, who is making her Corn Stock debut, Jean MacLaren is portrayed by Alex Buchko, and George Maxedon is their father, Andrew MacLaren.

Meg Brocki, the flirtatious villager who sets her eyes on Jeff, is portrayed by Jo Street-Blume. Mr. Lundie, who tells the story of Brigadoon and explains that with love, “anything is possible,” is performed by Larry Betzelberger. Rebekah von Ranthonyi, who directs the ballet company at Cornerstone Academy for the Performing Arts, portrays Maggie Anderson.

Songs from “Brigadoon” include “Almost Like Being in Love,” “Waitin’ For My Dearie,” “The Heather on the Hill,” and “From This Day On.”

Connie Tumminelli is music director for the show and will direct the live orchestra. Lise Higgins is the choreographer.

Costuming is a big part of “Brigadoon” and Sarah Blume has headed that effort. “Everything has been built from scratch,” Hupp said, including the kilts, for which Blume did extensive research on Scottish clans. “She’s amazing,” Hupp said.

“Brigadoon” runs for nine consecutive nights starting at 7:30 p.m. May 29 through June 6. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students. Season tickets are on sale for $70.

To order tickets visit www.cornstocktheatre.com or call 676-2196.

The 2015 Season

“Brigadoon” is one of four musicals being performed in the tent this summer.

The only non-musical will be “Dixie Swim Club,” directed by Lana Warner and Lisa Warner Jeans. It will be performed June 19 through June 27, with each show at 7:30 p.m. It is a comedy that follows five women who meet on a weekend in August every year to catch up with each other without their husbands or kids around. “Dixie Swim Club” forcuses on four such weekends and spans 33 years.

The third show of the summer will be “The Secret Garden,” directed by Pam Orear. Show dates are July 10 through July 18. Broadway veteran and Peoria native Bart Shatto will portray one of the leads in this dramatic musical that focuses on the lives of a child and the relatives with whom she is forced to live after being orphaned.

The fourth show will be “Grease,” directed by Rachel Wooden and set for the stage July 31 through Aug. 8. “Grease” is one of the most well-known musicals around, particularly for high schools. What’s different here is that the show has cast adults and will tackle social issues that are more adult in nature.

The final show of the 2015 season will be the regional premiere of “The Color Purple,” directed by Molly Burroughs and Sharon Reed. Show dates ate Aug. 21 through Aug. 29. “The Color Purple” musical is based on the novel of the same name by Alice Walker, which became an award-winning film. It chronicles the life of an abused African-American woman over a span of four decades.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).