By Marlene S. Gaylinn

For those who weren’t old enough to see the original Broadway production, or the film that came later, “Carousel,” based on a Molnar play called “Liliom,” is about a rough character named Billy, who operates an amusement park carousel, and a sweet factory girl named Julie, who falls in love with him despite his doubtful prospects. The results of this unlikely combination spell trouble and great sorrow. In contrast, Julie’s friend Carrie marries Enoch, a straight-laced, very ambitious New Englander who turns out to be a successful, fishing fleet owner. The story questions whether we are puppets of fate, and if you had a second chance to go back to your former life, what would you do?


This is a wonderful production with great singing actors directed by Rob Ruggiero. There’s lots of lively dancing choreographed by Parker Esse, a full orchestra, and very imaginative staging. It’s amazing what folks can do with a small stage, a large cast, and still manage not to let the performers get in each other’s way. The clever, scenic design by Michael Schweikart comes complete with a hand-carved carousel horse by local artist, Brent White. Best of all, the multitude of Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II songs, directed by Michael O’Flaherty, are everlasting -- they just don’t write beautiful music like this anymore. “If I Loved You,” “June is Bustin’ Out all Over,” You’ll Never Walk Alone,” are just a few of the great ones.


James Snyder plays the charmingly handsome “Billy.” His swaggering, masculine demeanor is extremely attractive to females and his rich voice, especially in the powerful “Soliloquy,” is absolutely mesmerizing. Also outstanding are lively Jenn Gambatese who plays Julie’s friend, “Carrie,” and Jeff Kready, who cultivated an authentic New England accent, plays Carrie’s fisherman husband, “Enoch Snow.” Erin Davie recently replaced Teal Wicks as Julie, and manages to give a sensitive portrayal. Tally Sessions is appropriately sinister as the villain, “Jigger.” The show is playing to full houses and was extended. So, get your tickets early, take the whole family, and enjoy every moment!


Plays through Sept. 29

Tickets: 860 873 8668


This review appears in “On CT and NY Theatre” August/Sept, 2012



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