Out of the mist

'Brigadoon' appears at high school

INDEPENDENCE -- The Central High School cafeteria rises out of the mist among wisps of song. Eighteenth-century Highlanders wander the halls.

It's enough to send visitors scrambling for their maps.

But actors in this year's winter musical can help with directions.

"Of course we can tell ye," said senior Jared Watson, recalling a favorite line. "You're in Brigadoon."

Central will present the musical "Brigadoon" beginning Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.

Brigadoon tells of two American hunters who stumble into a Scottish village that appears only once every 100 years.

Watson plays Archie Beaton, a clothing salesman who greets the hunters. To get Beaton's accent down, Watson has undertaken some serious research:

"Watching 'Braveheart,' old James Bond movies and a little bit of Groundskeeper Willie from 'The Simpsons.'"

As American Tommy Albright, senior Chris Owens doesn't worry about his accent. He also misses out on one of the play's other highlights. "I feel happy I don't have to wear the skirts," Owens said.

Actually, those are authentic kilts, brought in by a Scottish friend of director Jeff Witt's.

"You've got to be careful how you sit," senior Tom Burton said of the apparel.

When rehearsals started in November, Witt had to twist Burton's arm to join the cast. "I don't think at the time he knew he'd be wearing a kilt," Witt said.

Burton, a right guard on Central's football team, had to make a few adjustments. "Mr. Witt told me if I don't sit the right way he'll have to start charging more for a different kind of show."

Brigadoon indeed differs from other plays, but in its musical complexity. "It takes a lot of talent," Witt said.

"But this year, we have an amazing group of vocalists."

The difficulty stems from the sheer number of voice parts. Whereas other songs break down into soprano, alto, tenor and bass parts, Brigadoon splits those categories into several more.

"It's about a million part harmony," said chorus member Gwendolyn Bywater, a freshman.

"It's really difficult to learn, but it's worth it because it sounds awesome."

The melodies have brought tears to many an eye, Witt said.

There's a touching goodbye scene between Owens' character and Fiona MacLaren, played by senior Brianne Emry.

"From the moment they meet on stage, they have this automatic attraction," Witt said.

"Their chemistry, their voices, they're right there in that moment, saying goodbye."

Getting into character was difficult at first for senior Paige Alldredge, who plays "the town floozy" Meg Brockie.

She provides much of the play's humor -- mostly laughing at, rather than with, her.

"She's just a huge ditz," Alldredge said. But getting in costume helped her drop any reservations about her character.

"People will be able to tell you're uncomfortable. You have to break through it.

"Now it's fun more than anything."

For all its entertainment value, Brigadoon is also a musical with a message, Witt said. He hopes the audience comes away with a sense of what's important in relationships.

"In truly difficult times, if you love somebody enough, anything's possible," he said.

"Brigadoon" plays at 7 p.m. Feb. 7, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 16, and 1 p.m. Feb. 9, in the Central High School cafeteria. Tickets cost $7 for adults and $5 for students and are available by calling 503-606-2225.


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