Once every hundred years, and then only for one day: That’s how often the Scottish village of Brigadoon appears, in the 1947 Broadway musical of the same name.
It hasn’t been quite that long since “Brigadoon” was performed at the Hyde Park Opera House — it was 1960 — but the show is experiencing a revival, says Lamoille County Players director Patty Jacob.
Most older people will remember “Brigadoon,” Jacob said, having acted in it in high school or seen the film version starring Gene Kelly, which debuted in 1954.
It stayed popular for a time in the 1950s and 1960s, but lost the spotlight to newer shows after that.
Jacob didn’t know “Brigadoon” until Lamoille County Players choreographer Nichole Lefaivre-Damon suggested it. Lefaivre-Damon had fallen in love with the show after being introduced to it by her husband.
“I love the innocence of it all,” Lefaivre-Damon said, “how Tommy wants to believe” in the dreamlike Brigadoon.
The story centers on Tommy Albright and Jeff Douglas, New York friends who travel to the Scottish Highlands on a hunting trip. There, they get lost, stumble upon the village of Brigadoon, and try to ask for help.
However, they soon realize Brigadoon isn’t an ordinary village. As the villagers prepare for a wedding, Tommy and Jeff learn the village is protected from the outside world by a 200-year-old prayer that allows it to appear for just one day every century.
Tommy falls in love with Fiona MacLaren, a Brigadoon girl who’s the elder sister of the bride. His choice: give up his New York life to stay with her, or leave Brigadoon behind and lose his chance at finding love there.
No spoilers. The play is carried by Duncan Nutter of Stowe, who plays Tommy, and Josh McDonald, who plays Jeff. Fiona is portrayed by Holly Biracree.
A family affair
Duncan Nutter, who plays male lead Tommy, is joined onstage by his son Forrest Nutter, who portrays Harry Beaton, the show’s villain.
Harry is in love with the bride, and when she marries another man, he threatens to leave the village, which is forbidden under the villagers’ agreement with God; if a villager leaves, the town disappears forever.
Duncan , who lives in Stowe, has been in more than the average person’s share of shows and musicals, but says “Tommy is the one role that got away from me.”
Duncan, who’s had an international career as a teacher and who moved to New York City from Stowe in 2000 with his wife and seven children, has always wanted to play Tommy in “Brigadoon.” Now he lives in Stowe, and when the role became available, he seized the opportunity.
“I feel so fortunate,” Duncan said. Tommy’s “faith and gratitude, and his belief in something” not of this world have always drawn Nutter to the role.
“I aspire to try to have that,” Nutter said. After teaching school for 28 years, he believes in people’s ability to change other lives for the better.
Duncan encouraged Forrest, his youngest son, to try out for the role of Harry Beaton.
“They had availability for the role, and I advised” him to go for it, Duncan said. “It’s a medium-sized role,” and since Harry Beaton is the show’s antagonist, it seemed a good opportunity for Forrest to hone his acting skills.
Forrest is soft-spoken and smiley, describes himself as easygoing, and doesn’t seem the villain type. So, onstage as the lovelorn Harry Beaton, he’s had to concentrate on appearing “depressed and sad all the time.”
Forrest says “angrier” and “louder” are the two stage directions he’s received the most.
Forrest, 20, says his last real acting experience was in high school. He’s going into his senior year at the University of Vermont, and this summer he was focusing on practicing soccer and working until his dad persuaded him to try out for “Brigadoon.”
“I think he just wants to spend some time with me,” Forrest said.
Duncan was the director for Forrest’s last high school play, and “it’s different working with him,” Forrest said. He has strong memories of watching his dad on stage as a child, but “this is my first time seeing him in a show as an adult. Seeing him act and “get into it” has brought the father-son team closer together, Forrest said.
At just 12 years old, Hugo Murray already has an impressive resume. He and his brother are both members of the New York City Children’s Chorus, and earlier this year, Hugo sang onstage with Carly Simon at an event at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.
Hugo’s family owns a second home in Stowe, where they spend summers. He attends summer camp in the area, but his mother, Stephanie Murray, was concerned her son’s musical education might stagnate.
She sent a video of Hugo’s performance to Jacob, hoping he could land a role in “Brigadoon.”
“We crossed our fingers,” she said.
It worked. Hugo plays Sandy MacDonald, a child with a candy stand, “Sandy’s Candies.”
The play has expanded his vocal range, Murray said. “He has an angelic voice,” but he’s had to learn to “put that away and sing your heart out” in this role, she said, something he doesn’t do in the children’s chorus.
“It’s a lovely show,” Murray said. “The music’s really growing on all of us. We find ourselves singing it at home.”
Hugo says he still gets a bit nervous before he goes onstage, “but once you’re up there for more than a minute,” he’s just having fun.
His favorite scene is when the villagers chase Harry Beaton through the woods, trying to stop him from leaving town.
The cast and Jacob agree: The show came together well.
“It’s been fun,” cast member Carol Stone said while she fixed her hair in a dressing room. “The people here are great,” and her cast mates offer encouragement as she expresses doubt at her singing and dancing abilities.
You do both well, called a voice from outside.
“Thank you, Jeff,” Stone said with a laugh. “That’s the kind of connection people have around here.”