Seven Brides blows roof off 5th Avenue
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Seven Brides blows roof off 5th Avenue
by Milton W. Hamlin - SGN Contributing Writer

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
5th Avenue Theatre
Through December 28

The 5th Avenue Theatre may have to replaster its ornate Chinese d├ęcor - the ceiling, the walls, the balcony decorations - after the rip-roaring opening night of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers last week. The rip-snortin', rootin' tootin' stage musical, closely adapted from the classic MGM movie of the same name, continues through December 28 with evening and weekend matinee performances.

The show is a hoot and a half from start to finish. As a stage musical, it is an old-fashioned vehicle - a musical designed to show off its cast, or its star, or its score. Broadway used to churn out these shows at the rate of 20 or 30 a year when Cole Porter or Irving Berlin or Rogers and Hart whipped up topical entertainment year in and year out. Now, musicals are major events, driven, in part, by incredible costs. The soon-to-open Shrek: The Musical that started its trip to Broadway here in Seattle at the 5th Avenue Theatre last fall acknowledges passing $20 million in production costs before opening night next week. That's a lot of money in any economy. Camelot in the early 1960s was the first musical to spend $1,000,000 to open.

The stage adaptation of Seven Brides reflects the old-fashioned notion that musicals can just be fun. The MGM film was great fun, and fondly remembered for its dancing. The stage version, fleshed out with some new songs, is still noted for its dancing. And - wow! - does Seattle have a dancing Seven Brides.

Edward Watts is the handsome leading man, a reflection of the days when all leading men were handsome and could belt out a ballad without a microphone wrapped around their ears. Tall and talented, Watts - a Broadway veteran - is terrific as Adam, the oldest of seven Biblically named brothers. It's 1850, and Oregon Territory is the place, a bonus for Emerald City audiences who always relish a trip to a Seattle or a Northwest that probably never existed. Laura Griffith is Milly, his spur-of-the-moment bride who finds out on her wedding night that her husband has six brothers who need dinner, and a house that hasn't been cleaned since their mother died.

The show is politically incorrect in every manner; the six single brothers kidnap six friends of Milly's from the nearby town with plans to marry them in one fell swoop. A snowstorm, an avalanche, and a blizzard keep the single brothers in the barn all winter while Milly guards the village lasses in the main cabin. The 5th Avenue - perhaps to offset the politically incorrect source (classical literature's The Rape of the Sabine Women as later adapted by Stephen Vincent Benet ) - uses a high-profile female creative team. Allison Narver, director, Patti Colombo, choreographer, and Valerie Gebert, musical director, all do top work and obviously have a heck of a lot of fun with the show.

The songs are slight, the characters are one-dimensional, the dancing is incredible. That's all the opening-night audience needed to end the evening standing and cheering. The whole cast is great. The show is great fun. Family audiences will love the show. It's the perfect holiday show, from the 5th Avenue Theatre to Seattle, with love. High recommendation.

Ticket details and reservations are available at (206) 625-1900.