By Barbara Trainin Blank
James Myers has performed in some dark musical works or played dark characters. He was in the chorus of Verdi’s “Rigoletto” as part of the Wolf Trap Opera Company, and played Edward Routledge, the South Carolina delegate in “1776,” who cynically sings of the North’s complicity in slavery.
Now he’s enjoying much-lighter musical fare, playing Tommy, the romantic lead, in Rockville Musical Theatre’s “Brigadoon.”
“His biggest problem is that he hasn’t yet found true love, and when he does, she disappears,” said Myers.
Just the love part is “very scary, because he’s never experienced it before,” said Myers. Let alone the disappearance, causing, he added, “the ultimate long-distance relationship.”
Fantasy in a musical probably never had more charm than in Lerner and Loewe’s “Brigadoon,” the two American tourists who stumble upon Brigadoon, a mysterious Scottish village that appears for only one day every 100 years. Tommy, one of the tourists, falls in love with Fiona, a young woman from Brigadoon, and has to make a decision whether to leave his life and fiance in New York City and commit to life in the Scottish village forever.
Tommy and his best friend, Jeff, go hunting in the Scottish Highlands. They don’t find game, but Tommy does fall in love with Fiona, a lovely girl in a mythical village that appears only for one day every hundred years.
“‘Brigadoon’ is my favorite show, and the first musical I ever did – as a different character – in high school,” Myers said. “It’s so rarely produced, so I’ve always kept my eyes open to see if anyone was doing it. The music is so beautiful, with a romantic style of orchestration, and the story is beautiful and timeless.”
Frederick Loewe composed the music; Alan Jay Lerner wrote the lyrics and book.
Myers, a high baritone, gets to sing four romantic songs, each with a distinctive mood. The most famous is probably “It’s Almost Like Being in Love,” but many of the songs have become standards.
Because of Rockville Musical Theatre’s scheduling process, Laura Andruski, who is directing, had to wait two years from the time she proposed the show to the theater’s board to see it actually come to fruition.
Andruski said it’s been well worth the wait.
Like Myers, she agreed that “Brigadoon” is unfortunately not done as often as other musicals.
“But it’s one of the most romantic shows around,” Andruski said. “It’s glorious – and definitely been in my bucket list.”
Her attachment goes back years to when she appeared in a production of the show.
For Myers, the challenge is to convey the emotions in each song and take them seriously.
He’s torn about what Myers called “the ultimate long-distance relationship.”
But perhaps the most challenging moment in the show is a nonmusical one. Unable to find happiness in his old life, Tommy comes back to the village, and can’t find it.
“I have to, in such a short scene, convey his pain, anguish and despair in a way that feels real.”
Fortunately, he soon hears voices coming from the village – arising in the mist.
“Brigadoon” also stars Kirk Patton, Jr., as Tommy’s friend Jeff; Keely Borland as Fiona; Amanda Jones as Meg; a Noah Calderon as Charlie.
“Brigadoon” runs Oct. 26- Nov. 11 at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre of the Rockville Civic Center, 603 Edmonston Drive, Rockville. For more information, visit www.r-m-t.org.