By Bonnie Goldberg

Time Magazine called it the “Best Musical of the Twentieth Century,” Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II called it their favorite collaboration and Rodgers named it his most beloved musical and you now have the chance to capture its magic for yourself.  “Carousel” will be spinning its incomparable starlight at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven until Sunday, June 1.

Hop aboard the merry-go-round as the shy and reserved mill worker Julie Jordan, played sweetly by Johanna McKenzie Miller, catches the eye of the brash and cocky carnival barker Billy Bigelow, a smooth talking Nicholas Belton.  It’s 1870’s New England and the unexpected lovers soon find themselves without jobs as the price for their attraction.

Billy discovers he is being pulled in three directions, toward Julie and the prospect of marriage and family, toward his old boss Mrs. Mullin (Hollis Resnik), who owns the carousel and is jealous of Julie and wants Billy for herself as well as toward an old whaling friend Jigger (Matthew Brumlow) who wants Billy to help him commit a crime and make a quick score of cash.

Billy and Julie’s complicated romance is contrasted with the relatively simpler and sweeter match between Julie’s best friend Carrie (Jessie Mueller) and her intended, the serious and hard working fisherman Mr.

Snow (Rob Lindley).  An angelic helper to Julie on earth and Billy in heaven is portrayed by Ernestine Jackson.  Laura Scheinbaum plays Louise, the daughter Billy helps, in order to make his way through the Pearly Gates.  Charles Newell directs this landmark musical, the first to contain a tragic plot.

Memorable tunes include “If I Loved You,” “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over” and “You’ll Never alk Alone.”

For tickets ($42-62), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org; Performances are  Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday at 3 p.m. and Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Follow Julie and Billy as they travel across earth and heaven to find and express the love they felt for each other from the first moment the carousel magically spun.

(This review appeared in the Middletown Press on May 22, 2008.)

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