Let me preface this by saying that the Goodman Theatre does a nice job with what’s being billed as the first major revival of the Lerner and Loewe musical “Brigadoon” in 34 years.
But this ain’t a review. It’s a plot recap, through 21st Century suburban eyes. Here’s what happens:
Proto-yuppies and WWII veterans Jeff Douglas and Tommy Albright are on a two-man bachelor outing/hunting trip from Manhattan to Scotland. Tommy doesn’t really want to get married to this hot rich chick he’s dating because he’s just not into her or into living under her big daddy’s shadow.
It’s 1946, so the guys are wearing tweed sportcoats. Hunting should never involve dry cleaning bills.
The guys are lost in the woods when out of the mist appears the town of Brigadoon where things seem a bit behind the times. It’s wedding day for Jean McLaren and Charlie Dalrymple. The women are giggly about it, but for Fiona MacLaren, who’s worried about becoming a cougar, but at the same time, doesn’t want to marry just any guy in a kilt – unlike Meg Brockie who gleefully gives it up to anybody with a sporran.
Charlie is totally into marrying Jean, while Harry Beaton is pissed about this as he loves Jean, too.
The Americans happen upon all this, and Tommy winds up smitten with Fiona, who is gorgeous and could be a Disney princess. Jeff wants to take a nap as he’s been drinking Scotch all day, so Meg invites him over to her place.
She’s that kind of girl. Jeff really isn’t into her, but, hey, who is he to turn away a little Highland fling?
Tommy and Fiona go for a walk to pick heather and kiss after a mysterious thunderstorm starts. Fiona says something about being too close to the border. The same thing happens to me when I go to Indiana.
The lovebirds head back to Fiona’s house where Jeff and Tommy sneak a peek at the family Bible which freaks them out as it appears they have time traveled to 1746.
So Fiona takes them to see the schoolmaster who explains the hocus pocus. It’s the damn Brits.
See, the town is living in the aftermath of the (1746) Battle of Culloden, followed by the British Act of Proscription, which prohibited any Highland rebels from wearing their tartans and other traditional dress.
The town’s minister made a deal with God to escape oppression, meaning Brigadoon only appears once every 100 years. The people go to sleep at night and wake up to find they’re in the middle of another century.
This is pretty trippy. It means a Brigadoon year equals 36,500 regular Earth years. A pregnancy lasts 27,000 years.
Since Jeff and Tommy are there 200 years after the fact, this means it only took wanderers two Brigadoon days to find the town.
The deal the minister made meant his town disappeared before his eyes – and the people who live there can’t leave or the deal is broken. So in this case, they’d all be stuck in 1946, I guess.
The Americans learn they can stay past a day, but then the rules apply to them.
Anyway, it’s time for the wedding ceremony, a gathering of the clans in full regalia and festivities including a pretty cool dance with swords. At the Goodman we learn that dancers in kilts wear black shorts underneath them – probably for OSHA reasons.
Everybody is having a good time, but for mopey Harry, who pulls a knife, gets all melodramatic and runs away threatening to leave Brigadoon, thus breaking the spell.
So off go all the men to catch Harry. Being an American with a gun, when Jeff sees Harry heading for the border he shoots him! Not in the kneecap, to slow him down, but a head shot, like he should have done to a stag.
The townsmen find the body, and as there are no CSI units from their era, they assume hapless Harry fell on a rock because God didn’t want Brigadoon to end. That’s what they keep telling themselves.
Then they decide to keep their mouths shut until the morning as not to put a further damper on the wedding reception. So they fib back in town that poor Harry needed some rest.
Tommy and Jeff keep their damn mouths’ shut about what really happened. They’re New York businessmen, so it’s in their nature, I guess.
After the partying, Harry’s dad brings the body back to the town square, where Maggie Anderson goes bonkers and dances in mourning. She loved the mope. Dumbass Harry could have had her, but he had to turn all drama queen.
Meanwhile, knowing Jeff got away with, at the very least, manslaughter, the two Americans head back home.
Tommy is bummed, but Jeff is glad to get the hell out of there for obvious reasons.
Flash forward to swank Manhattan. Jeff is getting tanked at the bar outside the fancy room where Tommy’s rehearsal dinner is taking place.
Then Tommy joins Jeff him at the bar, then the fiancee pops out to see what the hell is going on.
Finally Tommy grows a pair and breaks off the engagement, and she’s all WTF! Tommy is lucky this woman is more stable than Harry.
I’m guessing Tommy is gonna lose his job anyway after this, so he drags Jeff back to the Highlands for one last look at where Brigadoon was – wearing suits, dress shoes and trenchcoats for their jaunt through the hills.
The town is gone as it should be. Or is it?
The schoolmaster shows up at the border at lets in Tommy, because when you love somebody, anything is possible. Even miracles.
I think Jeff hears this and heads back home to start a very successful line of greeting cards – and very relieved that he got away with a major crime.
Tommy disappears into the mist with his love and her town.
As far as I can tell, he didn’t even bring a change of clothes. More importantly he should have brought along books about electricity, medicine, and information about other advancements in technology made since the 1740s, because after a day or two, he’s gonna realize being stuck in the past isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.