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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is one of those rare Broadway musicals that began its life as a hit film, presented by MGM Studios in 1954. It is often considered one of the best musicals of the 1950s. Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre presents a thoroughly delightful production of the show, expertly directed by Elizabeth Stark Payne with exceptional choreography by Ron Morgan.

In case you don’t know, “Seven Brides” is the tale of backwoodsman Adam Pontipee, whose sudden “courtship” and marriage with Milly, ignites the story of her immense influence on Adam and his 6 wild brothers, who are tamed and let loose into town, where they find their tender matches in 6 young townswomen.

Adam and Milly

Milly (Krista Severeid) and Adam (Tony Lawson) in a scene from Beef and Boards’ production of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”,

Tony Lawson and Krista Severeid perfectly portray the two leads. Both possess a wealth of stage talents, and we are treated to their genuine shared love, as they are a real-life married couple as well as a pretend one. Lawson seems to embody the man he plays here. He fills his character with a variety of backwoods nuances and traits, and shows a true strength with his subtle comedy as well as with his vocal skills. Ms. Severeid’s Milly is feisty, patient and strong – and her lovely singing voice is one of the great features of the show. Together, they are the centerpiece of the production – melting into each other’s roles, offering a romantic honesty we don’t often see.

Sobbin' Women1

Adam Pontipee (Tony Lawson), center, tells his brothers about a strategy for them to be with the women they love as he sings “Sobbin’ Women” in a scene from Beef and Boards’ production of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”

The corps of brothers and their matching brides are offered by a plethora of talented performers, many with familiar faces, but all showing uncanny abilities in their turns as the sweet and (mostly) innocent young lovers. Ron Morgan has challenged these dancers with a full card of choreography. Especially impressive is the “Social Dance” number, which involves a company of 18 in what I would call an organized mayhem, as partners switch mid-step and then switch again before you can even notice. Also noteworthy is the variety of dancer’s “tricks” performed by various male brothers and townsmen, on what might possibly be the strongest table ever assembled.

Wonderful Wonderful Day

Milly (Krista Severeid), center, surrounded by her friends, sings “Wonderful, Wonderful Day” in a scene from Beef and Boards’ production of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”

All this is supported by Kristy Templet’s B&B orchestra, which offers a marvelous accompaniment. The whole package of performers, the colorful costumes by Jill Kelly Howe, the very adaptable set designed by Michael Layton, plus sound and lighting designs by Daniel Heselbrock and Ryan Koharchik, respectively, results in a remarkably captivating show you won’t want to miss.

Seven Brides with Seven Brothers

The seven Pontipee brothers marry their brides in a scene from Beef and Boards’ production of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”

And I cannot leave out the wonderful buffet menued by B&B chef Odell Ward featuring delicious Country Ribs, along with the usual variety of succulent and tasty foods.

Bottomline: Even if you saw the film a half dozen times, you’ll still want to check out the amazing performances that are presented here. This truly is an immensely entertaining show, rendered by some extraordinarily gifted performers.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through October 7th. Show times and reservation information can be viewed at http://www.beefandboards.com or you may call the B&B box office at  317-872-9664.

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