Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner, Brigadoon, “The Heather on the Hill”
Nikki Renée Daniels
Lyricist Alan Jay Lerner, a native New Yorker, enjoyed one of Broadway’s most enduring collaborations with the Berlin-born composer Frederick Loewe. After a decent run with their third show, The Day Before Spring (1945), they struck it rich two years later with the glorious Brigadoon. The plot was inspired by Friedrich Wilhelm Gerstäcker’s short story, “Germelshausen” (1862), which Loewe had brought to Lerner’s attention. On Broadway the show beguiled audiences, thanks to choreographer Agnes De Mille’s dances, a very affecting love story, and above all, one unforgettable song after another.
In Brigadoon two contemporary New Yorkers, traveling in the highlands of Scotland, find themselves totally lost. Suddenly a mysterious village emerges from the mist. When they begin to explore the village, Brigadoon, and meet its inhabitants, they’re astonished at how everyone seems stuck in another century, seemingly untouched by the world outside. (Only much later in the show is it revealed to the two men that Brigadoon comes to life only once every hundred years.) One of the Americans, Tommy Albright, meets a young woman from Brigadoon, Fiona McLaren, and falls instantly in love with her. Since she needs to gather some heather for her sister’s wedding, Fiona agrees to join Tommy in roaming through “The Heather on the Hill.”