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“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” Adds Up at the Incline Theater

Review by Nathan Top of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”: Incline Theatre

Theater is time travel. It allows an audience to go to a place, an era, a world outside their own and allows them to experience the joys, sorrows, and in-betweens of an unfamiliar setting. This is exactly what is taking place in the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater’s production of the seldom done musical “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.”

Set in 1850s Oregon Territory, the story begins with backwoodsman Adam Pontipee going into town to find himself a bride, where he meets the tenacious Milly and convinces her to marry him, dDespite an unusually short courtship and the omitted detail that Adam still lives with his six unruly younger brothers. The story unfolds as it becomes Milly’s mission to tame her new brother-in-law’s wild ways and marry them off on their own, resulting in frustration, hilarity, and a lot of singing and dancing.

The vision for the show is clear and focused from director/choreographer Maggie Perrino. This is one show where all the pieces felt like they truly fit together to make a strong, cohesive whole. The set, designed by Brett Bowling, makes the world of the show feel bright, colorful, and huge. With the rearranging of a few walls on wheels, the audience feels transported to many different settings, from a town to a cabin to a barn to a dance, gliding the audience through the show. Musical director Greg Dastillung has done a marvelous job with the talented cast that has been assembled. The blend and balance during the more choral moments of the show, notably the number “Glad That You Were Born,” are hauntingly beautiful. Also, the trio during the number “Love Never Goes Away” was on point.

Almost unavoidably, the show’s biggest highlights were the dance numbers, which reflected the excitement, joy, and surprise of the original 1954 movie. The choreography during the “Goin’ Courtin’” was delightful to experience and the “Challenge Dance” was possibly the best seven minutes of the show, utilizing the cast’s comedic timing with agile footwork. 

There is no live pit, which is fine, I guess. While it was less noticeable during the dance numbers, the absence of a live pit was most apparent during the recitative portions of the score, specifically in the number “Goin’ Courtin’,’” where it was unfortunately clear that the track and the cast weren’t lining up the hits. Among the reasons I choose to attend the theater instead of staying at home watching Netflix is the opportunity to hear live musicians interact with a great cast, whether it be sung, danced, or underscored acting. This was a missed aspect of an otherwise on-point production.

Perrino has assembled a talented and diverse cast. Adam, played by the dashing Evan Koons, has great comedic timing and manages to hit the lows as well as the highs of the wide vocal range. The band of brothers whom Milly must tame throughout the show are charming and engaging, each one giving their characters distinct and lovable voices the audience can bond with, most notably Benjamin and Frank, played by Ryan-Chavez Richmond and Kyle Taylor respectively.  Most impressive, though, is the strong and spunky Katelyn Reid, cast as the show’s protagonist Milly, who proves to have both the acting and vocal chops to really carry the show. It is one thing for a leading character to have chemistry with the love interest on stage. It is entirely another to have palpable character chemistry with six other male characters outside of that love interest, which Reid manages to convey with conviction. The whole ensemble is vibrant and charismatic, creating an inviting culture for the world of the show. 

With the cast and crew giving this rarely done show new life, this is a production not to be missed. “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers” plays Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through September 8th, 2019. Tickets are available at
https://www.cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com/Incline/