Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” is one of those musicals you don’t want to think very hard about. Six backward mountain men kidnap six girls, and the girls fall in love with their captors. But before that, their seventh brother goes into town to fetch up a bride of his own, and finds a woman who is very headstrong ‹ but who nonetheless agrees to marry him mere hours after meeting him.

No, it’s not a thinkin’ musical, and different productions take different approaches to it. Some try to downplay the rampant sexism by making the head chauvinist, Adam Pontipee, appear particularly unenlightened and unsympathetic. But the production at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre, directed by Jerry Elison, doesn’t apologize for the show’s origins. It lets it be itself, no matter how un-P.C. it may seem in 2002. You gotta respect that.

Because if you don’t think about it, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” is a rootin’-tootin’ good show, and this production roots and toots with the best of them. Sunny Claitor is the choreographer, and her work is admirable, particularly in the big town social scene, where she has a couple dozen dancers to arrange and a relentless tempo to keep up with. The simple, dainty choreography in songs like “June Bride” is also pleasant.

Adam is played by Richard Losee, who, according to his bio in the program, has also played chauvinists in “The Sound of Music,” “Kiss Me, Kate” and “Annie Get Your Gun.” That type suits him, and I hope he takes that as a compliment. He has a good swagger, a deep, commanding singing voice and the sort of rugged good looks that generally accompany such a caddish character as Adam Pontipee.

Opposite him as Milly is Allyson Edvalson, a newcomer to the local theater scene, and a welcome one at that. She plays Milly with likable honesty, like she’s a girl you might actually meet someday. Her solos are all lovely, but “Glad That You Were Born” is especially nice.

The brothers are portrayed with affection by Jerson Hatch, David Peterson, Kevin Johnson, Chris Nelson, Todd Beagley and Fred Lee (who has the meatiest supporting role as youngest brother Gideon). Their singing voices range from good to not-so-good ‹ I’ll let them sort out who’s who in that spectrum ‹ but only a couple of them are called upon to do much solo work anyway. The main thing with the brothers is rustic charm and enthusiasm, and they have buckets of that.

The brides are April Anderson, Melissa Aaron, Arly Crawford, Janell Lewis, Andrea Chapman and Corinne Mayberry. These roles get the short shrift in terms of stage time and characterization, but the young ladies in the cast play them with grace.

The show has slow moments (“Lonesome Polecat” chief among them), and staging Gideon’s confrontation with Adam so far out on the side hill under such dim light may not have been the best choice. But it’s all good, rowdy fun ‹ as long as you don’t think too much about lines like these, in regard to the Romans kidnapping the Sabine women: “They acted angry and annoyed/But secretly they was overjoyed.” That Adam sure tells it like it is.

Should you go? If it’s one of your old favorites, you can rest assured the SCERA does it justice.

Really, at this point, what IS the point in reviewing "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," except to say whether it's what you generally expect from that show? If you like the show, you'll like this production. That's what the review boiled down to.

I suppose there's the matter of who sings well and stuff like that, but frankly, that's of more interest to the actors in the show than to the readers, who are going to assume that if someone's in the show, they can probably sing and act well enough. (I'm not saying that's a good assumption to make, just that it's how the average, casual theater-goer will think.)