Bristol Hippodrome

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers January 2014

We had a barnstorming night at the Bristol Hippodrome this week with the opening of the amazing musical Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.

Yee haw - it was all lovelorn beefcake, sugary sweethearts and strictly country dancing set against the mountainous American wild mid west

.I liked the principal boy and girl played by soap star Sam Attwater (Adam Pontipee) and Helena Blackman (Milly) even better in the roles that Howard Keel and Jane Powell perfected in the 1954 film.

This was despite Sam’s singing being a little flat in places.

However, his voice could have been affected on Tuesday night by some technical issues with sound that stopped the production twice!

But when in full song and dance the tale based loosely on the Stephen Vincent Benet story Sobbin' Women was one of the best ‘feel good’ shows I have seen on stage.

Adam, the eldest of seven brothers living on an isolated farm high up in the mountains, goes to town to get himself a wife.

Convincing Milly, whose parent died on the Oregon Trail, to marry him that very same day, he forgets to mention he has six other younger, rowdy brothers - and that they all live together.

The half dozen slovenly brothers made a great acrobat troupe which was licked into shape by spunky Helena, best known as the runner-up on the television talent show How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria.

Thwarted in their attempts to woo six town gals who already had beaus, big 

brother Adam advises the boys to take a leaf out of a book he is reading about the abduction of the Sabine women in ancient Rome.

Set in 1850s Oregon the side scenery is a slightly oppressive against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks and tall pine trees but perhaps this was intentional given the dark deed they commit.

However, the atmosphere is considerably lightened by some lively footloose, toe-tapping sequences choreographed by acclaimed Broadway director Patti Colombo.

Trying to explain the storyline to the modern generation may takes some doing as abducting young women as potential wives isn’t quite PC these days and adds a whole new meaning to ‘take your partners, please’ especially in an era when ‘no’ means ‘no’ and no-one has heard of the phrase ‘shotgun wedding’.

But all’s well that ends well as mountain man Adam grows-up, his brothers behave impeccably towards their enforced guests and learn manners and how to dance while true love blossoms with the coming of the spring when after a thaw in the weather angry parents and a preacher arrive to rescue their kin.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is packed with 16 timeless classics, including Bless Your Beautiful Hide, A Woman Ought to Know Her Place and Goin’ Courtin’ as well as two new songs never heard before in any UK stage version of the show.

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers plays until Saturday, January 18.


Carol Deacon