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Area Voices: Musical director talks 'Brigadoon' musical, on stage until Nov. 19

A man handing a basket to a woman while wearing Scottish clothing.
Bemidji Community Theater
Two cast members on the set of Bemidji Community Theater's 2023 production of "Brigadoon."

Bemidji Community Theater's production begins this weekend, and Paul Loxtercamp gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the play.

BEMIDJI — “It's really a gem to have the Bemidji Community Theater in town here doing these types of musicals,” said Paul Loxtercamp, the musical director of the new production of Brigadoon.

The musical focuses on two American hunters who stumble upon a mysterious Scottish village called Brigadoon that only appears for one day every 100 years. One of the hunters, Tommy, falls in love with Fiona, a young woman from Brigadoon.

Accidental musical director

One man sitting and one man standing discussing something
Bemidji Community Theater
Two cast members of Bemidji Community Theater's 2023 production of "Brigadoon."

This is Loxtercamp’s first time as a musical director and it happened by accident. His wife Julie was originally supposed to have the job.

His wife taught for years in the Bemidji area, but she took another job last year in Minneapolis at a public school. She had already agreed to Brigadoon when she took the job, so they had to find a replacement quickly.

“She hunted all over town to find somebody and there was great talent who could do it, but she ended up having me do it,” Loxtercamp said.

Loxtercamp’s background is as a trumpet player. He’s been in Bemidji for the past 28 years teaching in public schools.

“We got involved with the Bemidji Community Theatre because my youngest daughter started,” he said.

Loxtercamp says it can be a challenge getting all these various voices to sound good together, but it’s also the rewarding part of the job.

“Through the whole process they're just super proud of the growth that they've made, you know, just being confident and being part of this community is just so rewarding to see that kind of growth.”

Mary Knox-Johnson is the director of Brigadoon and made the casting decisions, but Loxtercamp got to be a part of the process, discussing whether certain actors will be able to sing certain parts.

“She has a pretty solid idea of what she wants it to look like and I work with that.”

Practice, practice, practice

Every company does rehearsals differently and with Brigadoon, music came first.

“I'll take the first couple two to three rehearsals and we'll introduce the music to the cast, kind of decide like, who's going to be tenors, who's going to be altos, and sopranos, things like that,” Loxtercamp said. Then he made recordings of all the different parts and sent them to the cast so they had a better idea of the songs.

“Then we started doing the staging and Mary starts blocking everybody, but while that's going on, I’m kind of in the background. I'll be tweaking things, like she'll make a cut or she'll want blocking different here, so we have to adjust music accordingly,” Loxtercamp said. “Everybody needs to be flexible.”

Loxtercamp was on the phone every night with his wife getting tips on how to direct music. Especially since she had a lot of the cast as students. “She's very insightful on to what's the best way to get this person to really produce or put their best foot forward.”

He hopes people walk away from the show with a feeling of appreciation, not only for the musical, but the volunteers who put hours into putting on a production like this.

“I just think it's just wonderful when the people come out and see that. And just to realize that what a community it is and how wonderful these people work together.”

Brigadoon is 7 p.m. Nov. 10-11 and 17-18, 2 p.m. Nov. 12 and 19, with a special matinee 9:30 a.m. Nov. 14. All performance are at the Bemidji Community Theater Performing Arts Center.

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Area Voices is made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.

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