Inspired by the 1954 movie with Howard Keel and Jane Powell, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” flopped on Broadway. True, it is tough for any musical to survive in New York without memorable songs, and “Bless your Beautiful Hide” did not win over theatergoers.
Ten years ago, however, director Gerald Dolter founded Lubbock Moonlight Musicals and discovered potential fun within the same thinly-written play. Considering strong new stars and a decade of theater improvements, one expected this summer’s Moonlight reprise of “Seven Brides…” to be engaging, or at least the equal of the prior staging.
It is neither.
Theatergoers are bound to admire the stars, though, even when not everything works.
This is another opportunity to witness the comfortable stage charisma of Marissa Hernandez, who accepts all challenges as Milly, the eldest brother’s bride, and anchors the show. Nine months ago, she thrilled audiences as Christine Daae in the Texas Tech Opera staging of “The Phantom of the Opera.” Audiences have another treat in store.
Dolter has an ear for great vocals and a tendency to help performers develop on stage. Hernandez, for example, ably uses her voice to breathe life into even silly material. Here, she quickly becomes the Milly most expected, delivering songs that entertain and an endearing performance.
Evan Dunn is equally well cast as 1850s mountain man Adam Pontipee. Dunn possesses a resounding, trained voice that promises more operatic roles, if that is his preferred destination. From the moment he deceives Milly, Adam is not a very likable stage hero. But Dunn’s character, while astounded by her inclination to refine the Pontipee clan, eventually reveals a believable love for the wife he chose.
The role demands no dramatic depth, but Dunn reveals Adam’s strengths and faults.
The story opens with Adam leaving his mountain home and heading into town, vowing to stay until he finds, and…