[Photos]

The Stevenage Lytton Players performed Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at Stevenage's Gordon Craig Theatre from Wednesday 20th September 2000, until Saturday 23rd September 2000.

One of the most high-spirited of Hollywood musicals, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers  even outshone Oklahoma! in its lusty choreography.  With its risqué plot and strong score, it remains one of the best Western musicals.  Originally a movie released in 1954 and starring Jane Powell and Howard Keel, it was subsequently adapted as a stage show.

The story takes place in 1850 in the then Oregon territory when the West was still young.  The plot was adapted from Steven Vincent Benet's short story Sobbin' Women which was itself adapted from Plutarch's ancient tale of the abduction of Sabine Women by Roman warriors - in this instance recast as sturdy, naive backwoodsmen.

Gene de Paul and Johnny Mercer's original score is characterised by a rustic exuberance.  Al Kasha's and Joel Hirschhorn's additional songs help fill out character and develop themes inherent in the story.

The spirit and fun of the show made it a rollicking success.  The tempo was light and happy, the story hilarious, and the singing and dancing makes for an uplifting experience.  It is a happily-ever-after show which reflected the culture of the day.

Those who came along to see this show, had a relaxed and wonderful evening.  The Stevenage Lytton Players' interpretation was both imaginative and appealing to modern audiences.  With memorable musical numbers and energetic dancing all enjoyed an experience of a lifetime.

Synopsis

When backwoodsman Adam Pontipee goes to town looking for a bride, he finds Milly and persuades her to marry him.  Her friends are horrified that she is to marry a man she has only just met, and try to warn her against the marriage, but Milly is ecstatically happy and optimistic, and does not allow her friends to change her mind.

On their arrival at the farm after their wedding, Milly's joy turns to dismay when she finds she is also to take care of Adam's six unkempt, rowdy brothers.  Her heart quickly melts, however, and she sets about teaching the boys manners, as well as teaching them how to court girls.

At the town social the brothers and the town suitors square off in a rousing challenge dance which ends in a brawl, and the brothers' banishment from the town.  Meanwhile Gideon confesses his feelings of love for Alice.

The boys become depressed at not being able to see their girls, so Adam advises his brothers to do just like the Romans did with the Sabine women - just carry off the girls they want.  So the boys sneak into town to kidnap the girls and make good their escape by causing an avalanche which shuts off their pursuers.

A horrified Milly bars the boys from the house until the spring thaw when the girls could be taken back to town. Although his brothers decide to obey, Adam refuses to take Milly's orders and leaves for the trapping cabin to wait out the winter there.

During the winter, the brothers and girls long for each other, but Milly advises everyone to be patient until the spring, by which time the couples are together and very much in love.  When Milly has a baby girl, Gideon goes up to the cabin to get Adam to come home, and to tell him about his baby daughter. A still resentful Adam refuses to leave the trapping cabin and return home, but he begins to question his feelings for Milly.

When he eventually returns home, to say that the pass is open, Adam hears Milly singing the baby to sleep.  He tells Milly that he had been thinking of the baby whilst up at the cabin, and how he would feel if somebody came and carried her off. He also tells Milly that he had been thinking of her too, and that he loved her. Adam kisses Milly and she delightedly responds to his affection.

Adam realises he was wrong and decides to take the girls back to town but the girls overhear Adam's plan and run to hide as they want to stay with their men. The townsmen, who had left the town as soon as the pass was clear, arrive at the farm and misinterpret what's happening as the brothers catch the girls in a situation that appears more sinister than it is.

All ends well when all the girls simultaneously claim the baby as their own, causing the shocked townsmen to force the couples to marry in a shotgun wedding, thereby inadvertently giving the girls and brothers exactly what they wanted.