The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings






Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
Writing for Us

A CurtainUp New Jersey Review
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Ed Watts and Michelle Dawson in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Ed Watts and Michelle Dawson in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
(Photo: Bruce Bennett )
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is just the kind of show that the historic and endangered Paper Mill Playhouse needs at this time when its very survival is at stake. This altogether lively, visually impressive and thoroughly enjoyable musical, a co-production (in association with Theatre Under The Stars and North Shore Music Theatre) may not boast of being sophisticated or innovative, but it sure can brag that it has more exhilarating dancing of any show on either side of the Hudson River at this time.

Popular film musicals are not noted for their successful transition to the stage, although the reverse has generally been true. Neither Gigi nor the adored Singin' in the Rain could recapture the same glow and magic in their second incarnation. So it was not surprising that Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), one of the most lauded and memorable films from the golden age of film musicals, should share a similar fate when it opened (and quickly closed) as a Broadway show in 1982. The show, which has popped up in regional and community theaters over the years, went through some re-shaping and tinkering for the production at the Goodspeed Opera House in 2005. The good news is that the ebullient and melodic Gene de Paul (music)/Johnny Mercer (lyrics) musical (with additional songs written for the stage production by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn) does what it intends to do: Keep a smile on your face as your palms are kept busy applauding the dancing.

Director Scott Schwartz has done everything but stand on his own hands to make the Northwest frontier setting come alive with the robust vitality. This delightfully boisterous, rollicking adaptation of Stephen Vincent Benet's Sobbin' Women is a humorous tale of how seven love-starved backwoodsmen are eventually tamed by the women they have adducted. As in the film, it is the vigorous dancing by the high-spirited pugnacious brothers, augmented by their enthusiastic brides that gives the show its breathe (or is it gale?) of fresh air. That the rest of the rather old fashioned show, particularly the book, may seem conceptually stale is a point joyously offset by the disarming performances from the two leads and a very large supporting cast.

Choreographer Patti Columbo, who created the dances for the Goodspeed Opera House production, keeps the machos and the maidens almost continuously airborne. There is scarcely a whoop-up, hoe-down, ballet or social dance that doesn't end in a rib-tickling brawl. But there is plenty of romancin' too, as Michelle Dawson, as the feisty but charming Milly the No. 1 bride teaches Edward Watts, as the virile but rough-around-the-edges Adam the No. 1 brother some bedside manners.

All of the seven brothers —, as played by Randy Bobish, Luke Longacre, Karl Warden, Travis Kelley, Eric Sciotto and Christian Delcroix— make an impression with their comically individualized personalities, but it is their energy and those of the rival town suitors of the brides that keep the energy high especially in the thrilling and acrobatic "The Challenge Dance." One of the cleverest and funniest moments occurs just as the brothers arrive at the town social to woo the maidens ("Goin' Courtin'"). They are suddenly all comely, clean shaven and neatly dressed. Up to this point the brothers not only look like they haven't groomed or bathed in a year but behave as if they are mentally challenged. Talk about instant makeover. The audience responded with applause to their almost split second transformation.

Dawson and Watts are perfect in their roles and compliment each other well. They sing beautifully together, most notably the ballad "Love Never Goes Away." The melodious, toe-tapping score, including "Bless Your Beautiful Hide", "Wonderful, Wonderful Day", and "Glad That You Were Born,quot;, is gingerly played by the house orchestra under the musical direction of Tom Helm. Designer Jess Goldstein's puts the cast in some colorful 19th century western garb. Anna Louizos's awesome scenic designs, especially the dense green forest of tall trees that part to reveal various locations, including the cabin in the woods, and the town square are awesome, as eye-catching as all "those beautiful hides." An avalanche opens Act II, but it is the bare-chested male dancers in one scene that get the bigger oohs and ahs from the audience. This is a terrific show for the whole family to enjoy, so don't put it off.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer Book by Lawrence Kasha & David Landay Music by George de Paul
New Songs by Al Kasha, Joel Hirschhorn, Randy Bobish, Setphanie Fittro, Luke Longacre
Based on the MGM Film and The Sobbin1 Women by Stephen Vincent Benet
Choreographed By Patti Colombo
Directed By Scott Schwartz
Cast (in alphabetical order): Michelle Dawson, Margot De La Barre, Christina Rae Hedrick ,Sarah Marie Jenkins, Kate Marilley, Denise Payne, Karl Warden, Edward Watts, Christian Delcroix, Travis Kelley, Eric Sciotto
Scenic Design: Anna Louizos
Costume Design: Jess Goldstein
Lighting Design: Donald Holder
Sound Design: Randy Hansen, Christopher "Kit" Bond
Hair & Wig Design: Charles G. Lapointe
Dance Music Arrangements: Sam Davis
Fight Director: J. Allen Suddeth
Music Director: Tom Helm
Paper Mill Playhouse, Brookside Drive, Millburn, N.J.
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes including intermission
From 4/11/07 to 5/13/07; opening 4/15/07
Wednesdays at 7:30 PM, Thursday at 2 PM & 7:30 PM, Friday at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM & 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM & 7:30 PM.
Tickets: $19 to $68, 973/ 376- 4343
Review by Simon Saltzman based on April 14, 2007performance
Musical Numbers
Act One
  • Bless Your Beautiful Hide (part 1) Adam
  • Gallant and Correct Townspeople
  • Bless Your Beautiful Hide (part 2) Adam
  • Wonderful, Wonderful Day Milly, Mrs. Hoallum, Mrs. Sander, and Brides
  • I Married Seven Brothers Milly and Town Elders
  • Coin' Courtin' Milly and Brothers
  • The Challenge Dance Fully Company
Act Two
  • Suitor's Lament Suitors, Preacher, Mr. Hoallum, and Mr. Sander
  • Where Were You? Adam
  • We've Gotta Make It Through The Winter Brothers/Lonesome Polecat Milly, Brides, and Brothers
  • Spring, Spring, Spring Brides and Brothers
  • Glad That You Were Born Milly
  • Love Never Goes Away (reprise) Milly and Adam
  • Wonderful, Wonderful Day (reprise) Milly and Adam


Running Time:

Reviewed by
broadway musicals: the 101 greatest shows of all time
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.

Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide

At This Theater Cover
At This Theater

Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide

The Broadway Theatre Archive>


©Copyright 2007, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from