’Seven Brides’ director promises high-flying dance at Brooklyn Center

for The Brooklyn Paper
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As part of the continuing celebration of its 50th anniversary, Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts opens its "Broadway Series" on Sunday, Jan. 30, with "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers."

"Seven Brides," which was first a 1954 MGM movie musical, has been called a magical blend of the right story, a great score and astonishing choreography (by Michael Kidd). It starred Jane Powell, Howard Keel, Jeff Richards and Russ Tamblyn (whose dancing was further acclaimed when he played Riff in Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins’ "West Side Story"). The musical received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Screenplay, and won for Best Score.

In 1982, Al Kasha and David Landay adapted the musical for stage and added several new songs by Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn ("Glad That You Were Born," "Bless Your Beautiful Hide," "Goin’ Courting" and "Wonderful, Wonderful Day") to the original score by Gene dePaul and Johnny Mercer. Perhaps due in some part to the great renown of the movie, the Broadway show was not very successful. It closed just three days later.

"It’s a very famous movie. It’s a lot to live up to," Paula Sloan, who directs and choreographs the musical for the Windwood Theatricals production company, told GO Brooklyn. She believes the musical’s show-stopping dances and comic twists make it entertaining both on screen and on stage. And, of course, the plot is very appealing.

"It’s a very charming story," said Sloan. "It has a simple plot: The oldest brother of seven goes out to find a wife [Milly], brings her back and doesn’t tell her about the others. In the end, she teaches them manners and they all end up finding girls."

As in "The Sobbin’ Women," the Stephen Vincent Benet story upon which the movie was based, the brothers find their women by kidnapping some ladies from a neighboring town. As it turns out, the ladies are stranded at the ranch when an avalanche prevents the townspeople from rescuing them.

Filled with fun and romance, "Seven Brides" is set in Oregon during the 1850s and Sloan says her company will present it in full period costumes with a portable set consisting mainly of the brothers’ ranch but also the barn and the "big open space." The cast includes more than two-dozen performers.

Sloan says audiences should be prepared for some mighty fine dancing, particularly in her favorite numbers, "Goin’ Courting" and the "Barn Dance," which she says has "a lot of acrobatics, jumps and flying."

And she predicts a good time will be had by all.

"[Seven Brides for Seven Brothers] is fun to put up," she said. "Everyone enjoys doing it. It’s fun to watch. It’s one of those shows you can see over and over again."

Windwood Theatricals’ production of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" will be presented on Jan. 30, at 2 pm, at the Walt Whitman Theatre on the Brooklyn College campus (one block from the junction of Flatbush and Nostrand avenues). Tickets are $40. For more information, call (718) 951-4500.

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