By Edith McCauley
As friend Julian Swain often said, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is the best production of dance ever mounted. The dynamic dancers, especially the males, bring to the stage energy not often seen in a musical. Director Ed Flesch continues to cast the best of equity performers at The Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson, Wis., and his latest show exemplifies this ability beautifully.
The opening number, “Bless Your Beautiful Hide” by Jon Reinhold, who plays the eldest brother, Adam, gives the audience a taste of the quality of this production. Reinhold’s vocals throughout the show are breathtaking. An exceptionally handsome gentleman, he dominates the stage. Katie Sina is Millie, who, after the courtship of a few hours, becomes his wife. Her voice is flawless, and her ability to harmonize brings a special quality to every number. Supporting these two stars are the brothers, Benjamin (Eric Whitehead), Caleb (Craig Blake), Daniel (Matthew Dailey), Ephraim (Andrew Eckert), Frank (Yoav Levin) and Gideon (Tommy Martinez). Their comedic interaction gives the production the energetic thrust that keeps the upbeat timing moving.
Six lovely young women become the focus of the brothers, anxious to acquire wives. It is Adam who suggests their kidnapping. He has read Millie’s The Sabine Women, and with a little encouragement, the young men capture Ruth (Maureen Kelly), Dorcus (Kristen Hafford), Sarah (Jessica Ball), Martha (Daniell Fuhrmann, Liza (Lauren Sprance) and Alice (Beth Cheryl Tarnow). Robin Buerger has costumed the young ladies perfectly, and the colorful wardrobe brings a festive feel to a stage with little set appeal.
It amazes me that complicated choreography can be created in such a limited space. Kate Swan returns to the Fireside for her 20th production. As a performer, she appeared in the original Broadway company of Beauty and the Beast and later became associate choreographer for all official Disney productions of the show worldwide.
Seven Brides… runs through Oct. 23, and tickets can be purchased by calling (800) 477-9505 or online at www.firesidetheatre.com.
A Fireside Christmas opens Dec. 22 and the new season begins Jan. 19, 2012, with Viva Vegas. Two shows not seen in Wisconsin before are part of the 2012 season — Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 and Legally Blonde, the Musical. I’m looking forward to both of these award-winning shows.
In the Sunday, Sept. 11, edition of the Chicago Tribune, an extensive article in the Travel Section by Toni Salami details the many attractions of Fort Atkinson, Wis. The Fireside Dinner Theatre is given an outstanding review. As I’ve said many times before, it’s well worth the trip.
From the Sept. 21-27, 2011, issue