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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers an analysis of Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse’s contribution to the MGM adaptation of Brigadoon. On the stage, this musical was designed for singers, but the film version cast Kelly and Charisse, the latter replacing soprano Kathryn Grayson, who was the original choice for the character of Fiona. This necessitated enormous changes to the Broadway material, including the deletion of some of the most vocally demanding songs (‘There But for You Go I’ and ‘From This Day On’) and the reworking of ‘The Heather on the Hill’ and ‘Almost Like Being in Love’ into solos for Tommy (Kelly) rather than duets for Tommy and Fiona. Kelly’s presence also meant that he served, naturally, as the film’s choreographer, replacing Agnes de Mille, whose choreography had been one of the cornerstones of the Broadway production. Because the leads were now dancers, with additional opportunities for them to dance added to the piece, the role of Harry Beaton, which had revolved around the famous Sword Dance on the stage, was reduced and his number cut. Yet the chapter also identifies benefits from the casting changes and argues that it is one of MGM’s most underrated musicals, gaining tension and complexity from some of its perceived flaws.

Keywords: Brigadoon, Lerner, Loewe, Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse

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