Robert Tanitch reviews Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at Richmond Theatre, Surrey
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was Stanley Donen’s third great Hollywood musical in a row. Still under thirty, he had had already directed On the Town (1949) and Singin’ in the Rain (1952).
The film is worth seeing just for Michael Kidd‘s brilliant choreography and the acrobatic energy of the dancers, notably in the exhilarating barn-raising sequence, one of cinema’s great musical numbers, in which the brothers compete with the townsfolk for the girls.
The story, inspired by the abduction of the Sabine women by the Romans, has been updated and set in the backwoods of Oregon in the 1850’s. Adam (Sam Attwater) decides he needs a wife and goes to town to pick one up without telling her he has six younger brothers, all slobs, and he expects her to look after them.
Adam’s sexism may not amuse feminists. But his feisty bride (Helena Blackman) is more than a match for him and she treats the brothers in much the same way that Snow White treated the seven dwarfs.
It is very difficult for any stage production even to begin to compete with the 1954 film The present dance-driven stage production, directed and choreographed by Patti Colombo, is a small-scale touring aimed at family audiences.
It is the best and easily the most enjoyable stage production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers I have seen. Sentimental, romantic, innocent and exuberant, the show has considerable charm.
The Oscar-winning score by Gene De Paul and Johnny Mercer includes Bless Your Beautiful Hide, Sobbin’ Women and Goin’ Courtin’.
The production is at Regent Theatre, Stoke, on Monday 5 for one week.