Cedar Valley Community Theatre presents Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

By Rachelle Hughes

Seven men and seven women are engaged in a battle of the sexes on the Oregon frontier in Cedar Valley Community Theatre’s spring production of the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Mountain man Adam, played by Bruce Anderson, has come down off his mountain farm where he lives with his six younger brothers to trade goods in town and find a wife. His sweet-talking offer of married life away from the town is tempting enough to convince and capture the heart of hard working waitress Milly, played by Bonnie Nielson. The townsfolk have a grudge against Adam and his brothers who have a reputation for rowdiness and so they try to warn Milly that life will not be as peaceful as it seems. Adam has not told her everything. But Milly is too caught up to listen to their warnings and has fallen for Adam.

When Milly suddenly finds herself the only woman in a house full of seven men she is only momentarily discouraged before she sets about changing manners and attitudes of the brothers as she teaches them to find their own married future with songs and lessons like “Goin Courtin.” Nielson brings a bucketful of personality to the strong-willed, fearless, dreamer yet practical Milly. It is impossible not to love her instantly. Nielson also belts out songs like “Love Never Goes Away” and “Wonderful, Wonderful Day” with a beautiful and strong voice. “You’re a right spunky girl, Milly,” Adam tells Milly on their wedding night.  Nielson truly is an absolutely perfect “spunky” Milly.

Adam is, however, her match in will power and while he does seem taken with Milly he is still the one who convinces his brothers to kidnap the girls they have fallen for from the town with the rousing song “Sobbin Women.” What ensues is a battle for love, doing the right thing and pride. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers has long been one of my favorite musicals besides its old-fashioned overtones. However, I agree with what CVCT director Britannia Howe says in her note from the director, “Though some might argue that Seven Brides is misogynistic, I beg to differ. The show is about people learning how to treat other people with courtesy and revere.”

A large cast of over 30 actors performed an energetic and humorous production that payed homage to all the music and dance numbers that made Seven Brides for Seven Brothers catchy and fun when it was first written in the 1950s. It is hard not to get the music in your head for days and it was no exception after this community theatre production. There was a lot to love musically, about this play. I was immediately grateful for the live orchestra, conducted by Carylee Zwang, that introduces the familiar and well-loved score played by talented community musicians as the curtain rises. Anderson and Nielson’s strong and talented voices were a pleasure to listen to throughout the performance.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a choreography heavy show. Much of its charm comes from well executed dance numbers. This could have easily been the downfall for this musical. In fact, this production was a delightful surprise as the cast performed some pretty intricate steps for a community theater production. All seven of those brothers and the town suitors were leaping and dancing like pros in the town dance scene (which has always been my favorite scene in the movie). Kudos to choreographer Edwina Jones for keeping the cast light on their toes throughout the entire performance.

CVCT’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a family friendly, night of dance, song and love on the Oregon frontier. As for that battle of the sexes, it’s a little unsure who really wins in the end but my hint is — don’t underestimate Milly, especially local singer and actor Nielson’s Milly.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers plays Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. along with an extra showing at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Heritage Theater.

PHOTO courtesy of: Stephen Wagner

Caption: Cedar Valley Community Theatre presents Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. A production that the whole family will enjoy.

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