The word ‘classic’ gets thrown around a lot these days, but to say something is a true classic is to say that it will travel along the passage of time and remain unravaged by the journey. Many wonderful films and works of literature exist which have been labelled as classics and the world of theatre is not excluded from this elite group either. There are a great many musicals which have lasted throughout the years and are just as entertaining as when they first premiered, and one of these has to be Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which embarks on a new UK tour this year.
Well-known names Sam Attwater and Helena Blackman are set to star in this touring production of the revived musical, leading the cast as eldest of the seven brothers Adam and his new bride Milly respectively. Attwater is a stage and screen actor whose theatrical performances include roles in Tonight’s The Night, the West End production of Dreamboats and Petticoats and the UK tour of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He is also recognised for his television appearances as Leon on Eastenders and winning the sixth series of Dancing on Ice. Blackman is an established musical theatre actress whose stage career began when she came second in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s BBC television show How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? Her stage credits include playing Gypsy Lee Rose in Gypsy (Wales Millennium Centre), Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (Leicester Haymarket Theatre), Nellie Forbush in South Pacific (UK Tour), Helen in Saturday Night (Jermyn Theatre) and Gertie in Noel and Gertie (Cockpit).
The original American musical of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers opened in 1982 and was adapted from the 1954 musical film, which featured music by Saul Chaplin and Gene de Paul with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. It tells the story of seven unruly brothers living in the mountains, the eldest of which goes to town with the intention of finding a wife to run their disorderly household. He brings home Milly who, faced with the group of ill-mannered men, resolves to help turn them into gentlemen. Her efforts however, lead to the brothers making a rather unromantic attempt to find wives of their own.
Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn created new songs for the stage production, while the musical’s book was written by Lawrence Kasha and David Landay. A variety of revised versions have been staged since then, the latest being the 2013 UK tour production which features the direction and choreography of Broadway’s Patti Colombo. The musical opens at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley on 13th September 2013 and will visit venues in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Wimbledon, Crewe, Birmingham, Aylesbury, Cheltenham, Blackpool, Sunderland and Glasgow. Further dates are still to be announced.
I’m a big advocate of new musical theatre being supported and encouraged, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for golden oldies like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Musicals from past eras, such as The Sound of Music, Oliver! and West Side Story to name but a few, prove that they are still relevant in our modern society as they continue to appeal to new generations of theatre fans. A current example of this would be Singin’ in the Rain, which has enjoyed a decent run at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End, still entertaining audiences thirty years after it first appeared on a West End stage (the original stage production premiered at the London Palladium in June 1983). Musicals such as these are a wonderful reminder of a time gone by, but now Seven Brides for Seven Brothers must look ahead at the times to come. As those seven brothers seek love, so must the touring production – the love of the UK audiences. It is a classic for a reason, and with the added benefit of confirmed cast members Attwater and Blackman to help bring this timeless story to life once again, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers is already well on its way to finding the adoration it deserves and I suspect there will be many new fans exchanging a vow of love with the musical – for as long as you both shall live? I know my answer, and I sure do!
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 30th May 2013