A couple of weeks ago, in advance of technical rehearsals for the show, we sat down for a conversation with the director of OBSP’s Brigadoon to discuss his vision for the show. Below is an interview with director, Richard Curcio.
Interview conducted by Tyler Daddario.
T: Can you describe your vision for Brigadoon?
R: Well, Brigadoon is a very romantic show in every sense – a very fantastic show. My vision was that the show is about many characters searching for love. And also the power [that] love [has] to work miracles – to make an invisible town disappear and reappear. In addition to that, urging everybody to think about their love that they’re searching for: true love. In addition to that, I really wanted to underline some of the darker aspects of this show because I think that this show has been maligned for being too sentimental and fluffy – cotton candy-like. Which, it’s really, really not. So, I’ve tried to show that there are characters in it who do not achieve their true love and end badly. And as in real life, you have a whole variety of characters – some who achieve their true love and some who end badly. And by ending badly, I mean, left out in the cold, left out of Brigadoon, losing their friends, losing their hope, losing their life. That’s some of what happens to some of the people. So, it’s a very romantic show but it has a dark-lining.
T: I’ve heard that you you did a lot of research on the show and that it’s one of your favorite shows.
R: I have a lot of favorites. (We laugh.)
T: Were there any discoveries that you made during your research that changed the way that you approached the show directorially?
R: I have been in Brigadoon once before. So, as far as discoveries in the research part, I would say, no. But, once things are up and you see the blocking and you see the cast interpreting it, then you get different ideas. And in this production, I think the part of Harry Beaton, you know, the malcontent of the town…I really see a lot more depth in that then I ever saw before. And I really think that it’s a lot of pathos in that part of the story. And along with that, is the dancing role of Maggie Anderson, who loves Harry but it’s unrequited. I’ve seen productions of Brigadoon where it wasn’t even noticeable, who even was Maggie Anderson? In our show, [the] Harry and Maggie-part seem very prominent. It’s just working out that way. Due to the performances, the choreography, the actors. And again, that goes to giving a darker side, [bringing] different colors to the show than they usually are.
T: So, you talked about the process with the cast and how that helped you to mold the show, in getting the show up on it’s feet. What has working with this cast been like?
R: It’s been very good. (laughs) This cast has been very dedicated.They have a good work ethic. I would say they have been open to my ideas and my vision and my methods. I think that as I am only the Stage Director, as we also have a musical director, and choreographer who are terrific, I spend a lot of time on characterization and character development, more so really than some of our directors who have multiple roles. Everybody in this cast has been really open and willing to hear some of my less-orthodox ideas of how to develop your character. I’m really insistent upon that. There are 30 people in it and I really, really want to see 30 distinct characters. I don’t like an ensemble where everyone seems to be one amorphous blob. And the cast has been been mostly open and cooperative with that.
T: You talked about your creative staff (your musical director and your choreographer). What has been your process working with them in rehearsals? How does your collaboration work?
R: Well, the choreographer, Kaitlin Davis, I was first in an Off Broad Street Players show with her when she was about 14. So, I know her very well. I know her talent. We were in [Disney’s] Beauty and the Beast together. We worked together closely. I, sort of, know her. I trust her implicitly. I really didn’t have to tell her much except what I just told you: This is my vision and I would like these certain things to come across with Harry and Maggie. Then she went to work. I think the audience will find some really fantastic dances, including all the dances with Harry and Maggie, the funeral (oops! I’m giving that away!) dance by Maggie, the sword dance, the ballet of Jean… In this show there are 3 principal characters who do not sing, but dance a lot. So, we were fortunate to get 3 really strong dancers, good sword dancers. So, there’s a lot of great choreography.
The music director, Zach Wisely, I did not know before this show. But, he did a masterful job. [He] really came in and taught everything very quickly, really. Also, we have the singers in the leading parts. Rachel Burghen, who is Fiona, can really carry off the score, which is a difficult score. So, we’re excited about it!
T: That’s great! So, why Brigadoon? Why now? What makes Brigadoon applicable to today’s audiences?
R: Well, in truth, I did not choose the show this year. When the Off Broad Street Players had chosen Brigadoon and they needed a director, they came to me. I think they came to me because they (the Off Broad Street Players) knew that I knew this show and that I had done it before. And that I am somewhat of an expert on Lerner & Loewe shows. Having been in, several times each, My Fair Lady and Camelot, as well as Brigadoon.
Why Brigadoon? Why now? At the risk of sounding a little sentimental and sappy myself, there are a lot of things going on in the world and in the United States right now that are very troubling. I mean, political, fights, the economy, stagnation, poverty, issues dividing races. There are many, many problems. Brigadoon is a kind-of escapist show and the very idea of Brigadoon is escapist. It’s the idea that you can get to this idyllic place where you can stay and sleep for 100 years and then just appear for one day. So, the character of Mr. Lundie, who tells the story of Brigadoon, says “There must be lots of folk out there who would like a Brigadoon.” The first time I did this show, I thought, “That’s absurd. Who would really like a Brigadoon? To go to sleep for a hundred years and wake up…” But this time, (laughs) you know, I think there’s something to that. I think that there are people who would like to escape. I think there are people who would like the simple pleasures. I think there are people who would like to just be with their friends and family in an idyllic place and lead a simple kind of life. I think there are people who would like that, would really like that, would really like a Brigadoon.
T: With what you just said in mind, what do you hope that the audiences take away from this production?
R: Well, it’s a fantasy…unfortunately. (laughs) Because there are some days where I think, “Oh, I wish I could be in Brigadoon now!” I hope that people see interpretations from the cast of different kinds of love – the search for true love. And as in real life, some people achieve that true love and find that perfect person. And other people do not. And that’s why I keep saying, it’s not the cotton-candy, sentimental hogwash that some people think it is who don’t really know the show. It shows a whole variety of people searching, searching, searching for love. Searching for that one true love. Having, also, faith that faith will move mountains, that faith will make the town appear and disappear for one day out of every 100 years. But I hope, people see, that there’s emotional truth in it. There’s a lot of emotional truth. Even though it’s a fantasy, there’s a lot of truth in it. The way the characters interact. The way they search for love. The way they have a quest for love. And as I said, the way some are successful and some are not.
T: Great! Well, do you have any last words for anybody who may be coming to see the show?
R: I hope everyone, that many people, come see the show. I hope many people, particularly younger people, even some of the theatre people who are younger, come with an open mind. Come with an open mind and let all the emotions of the show, the relationships of the show, the beautiful music float over you. And see what emotional reactions you have. Don’t come with a predisposed – to say, “Oh, it’s a cotton-candy and fluff musical.” Because, that’s not fair. The catalog of Lerner and Loewe is really not that.
You won’t want to miss OBSP’s stunning production of Brigadoon, opening at the Levoy Theatre running through November 20. Two New York men stumble upon a mystical Scottish village that only appears once every 100 years. But what happens when they also stumble upon love? The Off Broad Street Players invite you to find out.
Tickets available online, or at our Box Office. Please call 856-327-6400 for more information!