Oscar E Moore

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CAROUSEL – a brave new revival of a classic

April 19th, 2018 by Oscar E Moore


Back to basics.  Strong story.  Gorgeous melodies.  Smart lyrics.  Uncomplicated sets.  No projections.  I’ve just about had it with projections.  Incredibly creative choreography.  Believable characterizations.  Careful and detailed direction.  A well-constructed and taught libretto.  And best of all a supporting cast of superb singers, singing a score that was written in 1945 that still wows and resonates today.

CAROUSEL has one of the best scores ever written for the musical theatre and everyone, young and those of a certain age alike should see this production at the Imperial Theatre to remember or be introduced to what real theater songs sound like.  How sung dialogue can be beautifully melodic.

What makes a song memorable?  Makes a song a classic?  A standard?  The God given gifts of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II that enabled them to make heavenly music together that they have shared in so many ground breaking musicals.

That enabled director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Justin Peck to reimagine and reawaken the more interesting, darker aspects of this love story between a young and naïve mill worker Julie (an innocent and totally believable Jessie Mueller) who falls in love with an arrogant, insecure and magnetic Carnival barker (an all of the above Joshua Henry) who is always teetering on the wrong side of the law and can at times become violent.

To bravely open this production in a carnival sideshow version of Heaven, where the characters are silently introduced as the orchestra sweeps us up in “The Carousel Waltz” and where we are immediately introduced to the excellent Justin Peck dancers who become a most original carousel and where the ever lurking Starkeeper (John Douglas Thompson) is hovering.  It’s a fantastic opening.

Especially since Billy Bigelow is now a man of color which adds just another layer to the love story and race relations, then and now.  His “Soliloquy” is truly a powerful and moving experience.

Julie’s best friend Carrie (a superb Lindsay Mendez – who manages to deservedly steal every scene she is in) has also fallen in love in short order with, Mr. Snow (Alexander Gemignani) a fisherman who has big plans and impresses all with his incredible voice.  Both have wonderful chemistry together and expert comic timing.

Julie’s cousin Nettie, who has the ultimate tear inducing song from the show “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is portrayed beautifully by Renee Fleming.

Owner of the carnival, Mrs. Mullin (Margaret Colin) and sometimes lover of the womanizing Billy takes charge of the stage in a great portrayal of this woman scorned.

Amar Ramasar, a great ballet dancer is Jigger – the guy who talks Billy into a robbery that turns tragic.

Which brings us back to heaven and the Starkeeper giving Billy a second chance to make amends.  To watch from above his daughter Louise (the graceful Brittany Pollack) dance barefoot on the beach with the hope of a reconciliation.

Only you can decide if you agree or not with me BUT believe me, it would be worth your while to see and hear this brave new classic version of CAROUSEL.  Eagerly awaiting the cast album.

2 hours, 20 minutes one intermission


Photos:  Julieta Cervantes

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