Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

4th to 8th July 2023

Lawrence Kasha & David Landay | Lichfield Garrick | Directed by Patrick Jervis

Lichfield Operatic Society's production of ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ is a brilliantly performed hit of pure nostalgia that captures the spirit of the Golden Age of movie musicals. Set in 1850s Oregon, this classic musical follows the story of Millie, who transforms seven wild and unkempt brothers into ‘romantic gentlemen’.

Under Patrick Jervis’ direction, the troubling sexism and violence which underpins the story is handled with a light touch. This is toe-tapping escapism: the plot is pretty ridiculous and hasn’t aged well but the music and the dance numbers are what make it winning pure entertainment.

There’s a sparky chemistry between Lucy Lacey and Connor Brooks in the lead roles of Millie and Adam, both in excellent voice. Brooks is a towering presence on stage, embodying the rugged confidence and charm of the eldest Pontipee brother brilliantly. The opening number, ‘Bless Your Beautiful Hide’, is a highlight and sets the high standard for the vocals throughout the show.

Combining strength and wisdom with tenderness and vulnerability, Lucy Lacey is a superb Millie. She captures the contradictions of the character: resilient role model and hopeless romantic rolled into one. The surprise discovery that her new husband has six slovenly brothers is not greeted with the outrage it deserves and she soon finds herself preparing meals, washing and leading a life of domestic drudgery.

The biblically named brothers (Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim, Frank and Gideon) are played with boisterous energy. Each actor (Ben Green, Cameron Morgan, Ben Adams, Will Bourn, Adam Gregory and Connor Bacon) brings a distinct personality to their respective characters, creating a dynamic ensemble of rabble-rousing songsters. Their camaraderie and chemistry capture the bond of brotherhood brilliantly, no more so than in a fantastic performance of ‘The Barn Dance’ supported by Jessica Bennett’s slick choreography.

The performances of the six brides (Dorcas, Ruth, Liza, Martha, Sarah and Alice) are equally strong although their characters are not as well developed in Kasha and Landay’s script. Charlotte Jervis, Megan Lambert, Jemma Tiso-Johnson, Shannon Robinson, Kathryn Lane and Carys Wilson create believable and engaging relationships with their untamed brother counterparts. ‘Glad That You Were Born’ in the second act is a vocal highlight.

A talented ensemble provides excellent support, lifting the production to new heights during full company numbers such as ‘The Kidnapping’ and the ‘Wedding Dance’ finale. Costumes (Suzanne Harris) are wonderfully vibrant and rustic and the sets effectively transport us from town to mountain cabin.

It is ultimately the music which, quite rightly, takes centre stage in this production, with a repertoire of catchy songs like 'Goin' Courtin', 'Sobbin' Women' and ‘Wonderful, Wonderful Day’ expertly performed by a full pit orchestra. Under the musical direction of David Easto, the orchestra brings the score to life, delivering the melodies with energy and precision. An impressively staged must-see show offering the perfect chance for musical escapism.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is playing at Lichfield Garrick from 4th to 8th July 2023.