Pictured (L to R) are John Fredrickson and Gracie Parker. The actors play Tommy and Fiona, respectively, in the Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts’ production of “Brigadoon.” Photos provided.
Pictured (L to R) are John Fredrickson and Gracie Parker. The actors play Tommy and Fiona, respectively, in the Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts’ production of “Brigadoon.” Photos provided.
Gracie Parker and John Fredrickson praised each other’s talents Tuesday during an interview about Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts’ production of “Brigadoon.”

Parker plays Fiona Maclaren in the Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe musical, while Fredrickson plays Tommy Albright.

“Performing with John is such a pleasure, such a joy, and I absolutely love it,” she said.

“I was about to say that about her as well. She has this gorgeous, stunning soprano – this classical soprano that, as our musical director said earlier, has the perfect balance of that beautiful soprano aria sound, but also you’re able to understand the words that she’s saying so the story makes sense, like people will be able to follow what’s going on. A brilliant musician, performer, actor and collaborater,” Fredrickson said of Parker.

“He’s really gassing me up,” Parker responded. “I would say the exact same thing about John Fredrickson.”

“That’s very sweet,” he said.

As “Brigadoon” is a love story, it is only fitting that the two main leads are very complimentary of each other.

In describing the story in “Brigadoon,” Parker said, “It’s about these two men from New York City who travel to Scotland and come across this town called Brigadoon which only resurfaces to reality every 100 years. My character Fiona is just a woman who lives in the village and she meets Tommy and it’s a beautiful love story that ends up happening between the two of them and a lot of other magical stuff as well.”

Fredrickson said his character, Tommy, is one of the two men from New York City who venture into the fantasy world of Brigadoon. The other man is Jeff Douglas, played by Connor Lewis.

“My character meets Fiona and falls in love and new possibilities are opened up to him. He was lost but now he feels found. He also has this other relationship that goes on in New York City that is adding conflict and everything, so it’s a big love story. Finding true love and finding a place to call home,” Fredrickson said.

The Wagon Wheel production is the first time either Parker or Fredrickson have done the musical, and Fredrickson said he did his homework to prepare for it.

“As far as studying and research and preparation, I looked into the 1940s and looked into World War II because my character fought in World War II and the effects of PTSD and study some psychological aspects of him. I studied the fashion of the time. I looked up lots of pictures of the Scottish Highlands and just started watching movies on romance. Research as far as capturing the human experience of Tommy as he’s going into this new world, this utopia almost,” he said.

Parker said she was super excited when she found out she was going to play Fiona because she is a “sucker” for Golden Age musicals. “The music is always so stunning and so beautiful and I love the storytelling that happens within it. Lerner and Loewe is just classic Broadway music so I was just so happy to be a part of it regarding that. But, regarding character research, Fiona is Scottish so a big part of my character study was learning the dialect so I had to look up tons of YouTube videos. I would watch some movies with Scottish accents, like ‘Brave.’ And I worked with some dialect coaches, and that was a really big part of it. But also just looking up the time period and the fashion of 1746 Scotland. What is that? Because that’s when they went to sleep for the very first time,” Parker said.

Fiona also is very strong-willed in her opinion that she is going to wait for the right person to fall in love with and she is not going to fall in love with just anybody, Parker said. “So when she meets Tommy, it’s this really incredible experience because she’s like ‘I finally found him’ after years and years of waiting for the right person. And I think that’s a really special thing about her.”

Fredrickson said Parker’s Scottish accent is “fantastic.” He said it’s a tough accent to master “You should hear my attempts at it. It’s tragic!” he said.

On the music in “Brigadoon,” Parker said, “‘Almost Like Being In Love’ is a classic, standard, American musical theater song that I love and adore.”

Fredrickson agreed. “I would say from this show, the one that people might recognize would be ‘Almost Like Being In Love.’ It was popularized by Frank Sinatra … just these big, classical baritone singers of the age would do jazz standards of that song, so that is an exciting song,” he said.

 Gene Kelly played Tommy in the 1954 movie version of “Brigadoon.”

Other songs people might recognize from the musical include “Waiting’ for My Dearie,” “The Heather on the Hill,” “Come to Me, Bend to Me” and “There But for You Go I,” they said.

“Just beautiful, beautiful music,” Parker said.

Fredrickson said, “Lerner and Loewe basically created masterpieces with this whole score, so it is a pleasure and privilege to get to perform these songs, especially as my vocal background and training were with these Golden Age standards. So it’s kind of fun to do this and explore it and get to perform it.”

As for overall themes of “Brigadoon,” Fredrickson said, “Especially for Tommy and Jeff, the conversation of lost and being lost in the world and our lives, just mentally unclear of what’s going on. The pursuit of love is a topic of conversation. Finding your way back home or finding a place to call home. Finding the right one.”

Parker added the themes of self-reflection and self-acceptance “because Tommy has to go through a whole whirlwind of emotions to really process what he thinks about and what he is going through. The same with Fiona. There’s a lot of love and there’s loss, but it’s ultimately what love means and what it means to be lonely and what it means to have someone to fill that gap in your life.”

Fredrickson said doing “Brigadoon” has changed his perspective on love and loss.

“We’ve kind of talked about this a little bit. It’s changed,” he said.

“It’s definitely eye-opening to a certain degree. Just hearing the words that they say and the songs that they sing and how Tommy and Fiona express their affection and love for each other. And, also, other relationships in the show, between Fiona and her sister Bonnie Jean, those relationships. Father-daughter, sister to sister, friend to friend,” Parker said.

“Very big themes of family,” Fredrickson said.

“Family and relationships, not just romantic, and that’s another really beautiful thing,” Parker said. “It definitely has opened my eyes up to a lot of different ways of thinking about love, thinking about life and how you approach those situations in reality.”

Parker was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nev. She grew up there doing theater most of her life. She is currently a student at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory Music, pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre. A rising junior, she said she’s absolutely loving her time there. Wagon Wheel is her first professional job.

Fredrickson grew up in North Texas and really started pursuing theater as his passion and lifelong dream in high school. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre in 2021 from Texas State University. Last summer, he had his first opportunity to perform at the Wagon Wheel. After this season, he plans to move to New York to pursue an acting career.

“Brigadoon” is at the Wagon Wheel today through July 9. Tickets are available through the box office or online at wagonwheelcenter.org.