The show will appeal to fans of the two leads Adam and Milly, played by Steven Houghton and Susan McFadden. Houghton is credited with having played major roles in various mainstream television programmes, and for reaching number three in the UK charts with Wind Beneath My Wings. I have to confess I had never heard of him, though after a rocky start (I think he may have had trouble singing through his fake beard) he gave a sound performance. McFadden, who won ITV’s Grease is the Word, was unquestionably the star of the show; her Disneyesque mannerisms and sweet voice were, surprisingly, not nauseating at all and instead a real joy to observe.
Seven Brides does however have a somewhat contentious plot. Inspired by 2000-year-old short story, it centres on the theme of kidnapping, with the hostages eventually falling in love with their captors. I appreciate that musical theatre is not generally a mechanism to explore serious issues; but this is perhaps taking the suspension of reality a little too far. Furthermore, a key theme to the musical is the concept of women ‘sorting men out’. Milly, for example, marries Adam having known him for only a few hours and within days she has not only put some order into his life (i.e. she has washed his socks and cleaned out the fridge), but she has turned his six brothers from feral creatures into a half-dozen Romeos. As any woman knows, this is an unlikely turnaround – plus I rather preferred the brothers in their former animalistic state.
All the same, the story line is rightly a mere excuse for some singin’ and dancin’, which is honourably enhanced by the quality of the show’s set, props and costumes. A visual feast, the outfits are effervescent and perfectly lurid, and the set changes frequently and is boosted by fabulous lighting and special effects – great for anyone with a short attention span.
Seven Brides is a great excuse for a sing song. I can forgive the somewhat bizarre plot, largely because my yoga teacher set me the task of not taking anything seriously this week.