25th May – 1st June 2013
Photographs from the show by Alan Martin – see more by clicking here…
NODA – Patricia Connor, Region 6 Representative
Carousel is the second musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II following their hit Oklahoma. It was adapted from Ferenc Molnár’s 1909 play Liliom, transplanting it from its setting in Budapest to Maine on the New England coastline. The show performed in 1945 was an immediate hit with both critics and audiences and ran on Broadway for 890 performances and its success was duplicated in London in 1950. The story revolves around a carousel barker Billy Bigelow and his doomed romance with millworker Julie Jordan. A secondary plot line deals with millworker Carrie Pipperidge and her romance with fisherman Enoch Snow. The content of the show deals with some quite dark material and issues which are relevant in today’s society; however there is a chance of redemption at the end.
The opening of this show has a propensity to be a little long and can sometimes be a bit uninspiring, but in this production when the curtains opened and the carousel waltz began the stage appeared to explode with colour and people. The action was taking place in a fairground with lots of different attractions. I liked the carousel horses and would have enjoyed a ride on them; my interest was kept all the way through this section.
We were then treated to some very fine performances: Ben Wake gave an excellent performance as the troubled Billy Bigelow. He had a smooth easy to listen to voice which suited this part. His ‘Soliloquy’ was admirable. Bridie Flanagan as Julie Jordan gave an insight into a woman who loved her troubled and sometime abusive husband and how she struggled to get through to him. Nick Lloyd gave a believable performance as the ambitious and very proper Enoch Snow. There was the lovely voice of Lisa Tatler as Nettie Fowler and Carl Sedman was suitably gruff and seedy as Jigger Graigin. Heather Lewis was outstanding as Carrie Pipperidge with her excellent comic timing and brilliant facial expressions. She appeared to have grasped the character of Carrie perfectly. There were fine performances from all the other supporting roles and the children were all splendid. There were no weak links in this cast. Well done to the chorus and dancers who had a crucial part to play in this show which includes important energetic numbers and ballets. They were both lively and then sad when required which helped keep the audience’s attention at all times. Although in my personal opinion the tempo of ‘June is Bustin’ Out All Over’ was a little slow? The Choreographer was Zoe Findley and the Musical Director Tom Chester led the orchestra supporting the cast creditably and unobtrusively.
Congratulations to the stage crew, properties lighting and sound who did an excellent efficient job. The costumes reflected the period, were very colourful and looked good quality.
Well done for an excellent production led by Artistic director Liz Clarke.