Review, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Orchard Theatre
Sam Attwater and Helena Blackman in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Bless the beautiful hides of the cast of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers currently raising the rafters of Dartford’s Orchard Theatre and the spirits of audiences with a high octane stage version of the 1954 classic musical.
You can almost smell the tall trees in 1850s Oregon at the remote mountain farm of Adam Pontipee, played by Sam Attwatter while also bidding to become the champion of champions on TV’s Dancing on Ice.
Caveman style, he heads into town to find himself a wife. There, he spies Milly in the trim shape of Helena Blackman, who was a worthy runner-up in How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?
Adam doesn’t quite club her over the head and drag her back home by her hair but quickly convinces her to marry him in the fast moving plot. What he doesn’t reveal is that waiting for them are six more Neanderthals like him.
Aghast Milly is introduced one by one to wild and uncouth siblings Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim, Frank and Gideon. At first she despairs but then embarks on the seemingly impossible task of transforming them into well-mannered gentlemen.
They too yearn for wives and decide to literally bag their future brides in unsubtle fashion after Adam reads them the story of The Rape of the Sabine Women.
The cleverly crafted set has scenery whizzing effortlessly on and off stage and there is even an impressive avalanche as the plundering brothers elude angry town folk and whisk away their beautiful booty.
The tale features plenty of thigh-slapping music, frilly frocks, acrobatic dance routines and 16 songs, the best known of which is Bless Her Beautiful Hide, ably supported by Wonderful, Wonderful Day, Goin’ Courtin’ and We Gotta Make It Through the Winter.
Attwater demonstrates an accomplished vocal ability but the best voice undoubtedly belongs to pitch perfect Blackman. Despite his dancing ability, Attwater also leaves most of the fancy steps to the fleet footed brothers and the brides. Perhaps he was saving his energy for the ice.
True love wins through, of course, and after a succession of well-staged fights, arguments and romance a shotgun wedding ensures the show ends with a bang.