Camelot Theatre Company's production of "Brigadoon," which opened Friday, demonstrates again the remarkable skill of artistic director Livia Genise in downsizing a "big" musical. This one, set in Scotland, loses none of its character and charm.

Alan J. Lerner (1918-86) wrote the book and lyrics of "Brigadoon" and Frederick Loewe (1904-88) composed the music. It opened in New York in 1947 and ran for 581 performances and in London in 1949 with a further 685.

Lerner, in his book "The Street Where I Live" (1978), observes, "'Brigadoon' was not only the story of a town that disappeared in the Highland mist and returned one day every hundred years, but besides the main love story of the American boy and the Scottish girl, there were two secondary subplots involving two other sets of opposite sexes."

Those concerned are Tommy Albright (Don Matthews) and Fiona MacLaren (Renée Hewitt); Charlie Dalrymple (Elias Alexander) and Jean MacLaren (Susan Diviak); and Jeff Douglas (AJ Falk) and Meg Brockie (Rose Passione). Tommy and Jeff are friends who get lost and stumble into a mystery. No one can leave Brigadoon or it will disappear forever. A stranger could stay. If he loves someone deeply, anything is possible "¦ even miracles.

The song "Brigadoon" tells of "blooming under sable skies, there my heart forever lies, let the world grow cold around us, let the heavens cry above! In thy valley there'll be love." There are a dozen songs all told. Two became instant commercial hits: "Almost Like Being in Love" and "The Heather on the Hill," while Al Jolson gave a big boost to "Come to Me, Bend to Me."

One has to commend scenic designer Donald Zastoupil for the set's centerpiece of a low stone bridge over a realistic rill, artfully lit by lighting designer Bart Grady, and a couple of houses having thatched roofs. The whole allows ample space for all the dancing feet of the villagers down on MacConnachy Square. In addition, just in case any of us doubt we're in Scotland, there's a signpost pointing to Inverness, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow. A neat touch.

The play abounds in entertainment, and it is impossible not to be caught up in the enthusiasm of the cast (23) and musicians (Aaron Blenkush and Meagan Iverson on keyboards, Karl Iverson on synthesizer). Brian O'Connor, the resident sound designer, proves to be equal to all the demands made upon him.

Among the highlights is the pursuit of Jeff by Meg with a hilarious comedy song, "The Love of My Life," giving point to the lively lyrics. Outstanding is the ingratiating young actor Elias Alexander as Charlie Dalrymple, not only for his song "I'll Go Home with Bonnie Jean" (Susan Diviak, an accomplished ballerina, by the way), his spouse-to-be, but for his dandy dancing, as in the Sword Dance, and deft handling of the bagpipes at a funeral. Yes, there is a death in the play.

The dancing throughout the show is a delight, as one would expect, with Audrey Flint as choreographer — what precision and vigor! It makes us aware of the colorful attire, the handiwork of costume designer Emily Ehrlich Inget.

The main love story — that of Fiona and Tommy — is palpably portrayed by Renée Hewitt and Don Matthews. Not only do they sing with heart, they also exude a warm sincerity. He, in particular, has to withstand the jibes from Jeff (AJ Falk), who takes frequent nips from a flask and ultimately succumbs to the advances of Meg Brockie (Rose Passione) and ends up in a wild pair of trousers.

In a scene near the end, Tommy is back in a bar in New York. He hungers to return to Fiona and echoes of the songs haunt him — "Come to me, Bend to Me," "The Heather on the Hill" and "I'll Go Home with Bonnie Jean." It is both touching and funny.

Livia Genise certainly takes the high road in her production of "Brigadoon." It runs through Dec. 31. Reservations are recommended (an additional $2). Tickets are available over the phone, at the theater or online at CamelotTheatre.org. Box office hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and one hour before performances. Call 535-5250.

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