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Ft. Thomas Actor Talks Latest Star Turn in "Brigadoon"

Two buddies, Tommy and Jeff, are lost in the Scottish Highlands. It’s not long after WWII, so there’s no GPS. And Tommy is unhappily engaged and something seems to be missing from his life.

Wait – what’s that music? And in that valley, where did that village come from? They don’t remember seeing it yesterday! Maybe the townsfolk can give them directions!

Brigadoon is one of the most romantic musicals ever, by Lerner and Loewe from Broadway’s Golden Age. It is, of course, about an enchanted town that appears for one day every 100 years and Fiona (Sarah Viola), the soul mate who’s waiting for Tommy there.

The Covedale Center’s revival, April 28 - May 22, stars Justin Glaser as Tommy, whose leading man singing and acting won him lots of professional credits, including a long run in the title role of the Broadway national tour of Beauty and the Beast.

These days Glaser is back home in Fort Thomas and back at Northern Kentucky University studying music and prepping for grad school. But he sounds like Broadway on any stage.

It’s always fun to check in with Glaser, a fan of the Golden Age musicals. “The songs tend to be gorgeous and smart; the best ones have truly beautiful poetry that transcend the decades.”

For Brigadoon, he’ll be working with director Tim Perrino, who has a real feel for Broadway’s golden oldies, and one of the region’s best music directors, Steve Goers.

The classics fit Glaser’s voice perfectly and in Brigadoon he’ll be thrilling audiences with songs including “Almost Like Being in Love.”

“The classics are produced again and again for a reason,” Glaser notes. “It seems like each time one of the old greats gets a major revival, people are stunned by the depth and beauty of the material.”

His favorite song from the show is one he’s been singing since the beginning of his career. “I really didn't start singing, or have any musical sensibilities, until I somehow stumbled my way into the Theatre Department at NKU.

“Someone said I had a nice speaking voice and that I'd probably have a good singing voice, too, so, I started taking voice lessons! One of the very first songs I ever sang was (from Brigadoon) "There But for You Go I."  

“I ended up keeping it with me throughout my entire development as a singer, so, it's very special to me. It's a fantastic piece, musically and dramatically, and no one ever sings it.”

The show’s challenge, Glaser says, is that, “it’s structured in a way that true, life-altering love develops over the course of one day. This is difficult.

“However, playing opposite Sarah makes that easier, the lush music certainly helps, and Tim has really put a lot of thought into the why's and how's of it. I feel extremely optimistic about this show. I think it has the potential to be something very special.”

On the topic of establishing the chemistry with a leading lady that makes audiences root for the characters’ happily-ever-after, “It works best when both are mostly focused on the relationship, and not on their individual wants.

“I could tell instantly Sarah was going to be ideal. I'm very excited to step up my game and develop our relationship. Locally, I've worked a lot with Helen Goers and she is a master of being an active, giving scene partner. I've learned so much from her.”

Glaser isn’t quite ready to say what’s next.  “I have a project this summer that hasn't been announced, yet. After that, I'm going to be primarily focused on my music studies at NKU. I have two more years in that program and then I'll be looking to relocate to another city for graduate studies. However, if a project were to come up giving me the opportunity to work with Sarah and Steve Goers again, I'd have a hard time saying no.

“At this point it's more about being able to enjoy the experience and not simply doing a show for the sake of doing a show.”

Playing an American tourist in Brigadoon, Glaser doesn’t get to wear the local wardrobe – kilts. Which is fine with him. He laughed, “Nobody wants to see my skinny legs.”

Brigadoon, April 28-May 22. Covedale Center, 4990 Glenway Ave., West Price Hill. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $26, students and seniors $23. 513-241-6550 and www.cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com

Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts
Photo by Mikki Schaffner (provided)