Review of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” at The Muny

    Splendid leads and an excellent ensemble combine in The Muny’s delightful production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

    St. Louis native Kendra Kassebaum plays Milly Bradon, a put-upon waitress in a small-town Oregon restaurant. Shortly after she meets handsome rancher, Adam Pontipee, he surprises her with a marriage proposal. She accepts with little delay.

    Her happiness as a newlywed is threatened when she arrives at Adam’s remote ranch. There she learns he lives with six scruffy brothers for whom she is expected to cook and clean. She soon realizes her best bet is to civilize her brothers-in-law so they can find wives of their own.

    Kassebaum is a wonderful singer and dancer, and she makes Milly a character of genuine depth.

    Edward Watts has everything needed to stand out as Adam: a strapping frame, a beautiful voice, and an outsized personality. Watts nicely balances the roughness in Adam’s makeup with the charm.

    Seven Brides is a dance showcase, and director-choreographer Josh Rhodes and musical director Valerie Gebert bring out the best in the Muny forces. The Challenge Dance at the church social is especially bracing. The six brothers are Harris Milgrim, Waldemar Quinones-Villanueva, Ryan Steele, Garett Hawe, Kyle Coffman, and Brandon L. Whitmore.

    The women they hope to impress are Leslie Donna Flesner, Sarah Meahl, Kristin Yancy, Carly Blake Sebouhian, Shonica Gooden, and Mikayla Renfrow. The women’s suitors in the town are Michael Hartung, Daryl Tofa, Cooper Stanton, John Peterson, Kamal Lado, and Matthew Davies.

    The townspeople are Lynn Humphrey, Duane Martin Foster, Jerry Vogel, Rich Pisarkiewicz, Rebecca Young, and Emilie Renier.

    The setting for the town and the surrounding mountains is impressively depicted in the set by Michael Schweikardt and the video by Caite Hevner. The new trees on the stage fit nicely into this design. Amy Clark’s costumes, Jason Lyons’s lighting, and Tommy Kurzman’s wigs add to the visual appeal.

    Some of what I saw on opening night differed from what I recall from four earlier productions at The Muny. I was happy to find an explanation in the program note by Muny Executive Producer Mike Isaacson. The team for the current staging included “the original co-book writer, David Landay, who has had time to give the script a few tweaks and tucks.” I applaud Isaacson and The Muny for making the extra effort to freshen the show’s appeal.

    —Gerry Kowarsky

    Photo by Phillip Hamer