The Ridgelea Reports on Theatre

“Carousel,” The Legend and Legacy of Billy Bigelow

Summer Theatre of New Canaan’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel” has its last preview on Thursday, July 21, and will play through August 6 at the tent in Waveny Park [enter through the High School on Farm Road in New Canaan]. It’s a marvelous show, directed by Allegra Libonati, and featuring a cast of thirty actors and dancers, some of whom are from Connecticut communities and others from as far away as Portugal. Summer Theatre almost always provides a mix of equity actors along with talented non-equity actors and students, and they have done that again, with superb results.

The bottom line is that you can’t beat the quality of this production. Run to get your tickets (www.STONC.com) and bring your friends. It’s about as good as you can hope for, anywhere, including Broadway, with a ten piece orchestra and superb casting and direction. Lots of beautiful music, too.

“Carousel” is a rough story based on the life of a do-it-yourself carnival barker (Christian Cardoso), and a sweet young girl (Jazmin Gorsline) whose eyes meet and hearts beat faster, and they fall in love. Billy and Julie, much too quickly, get married, and continue to live in the small New England town that has not only a mill, but a port, along with a carnival and a beautiful carousel. (Think Old Orchard Beach). Julie’s best friend, Carrie (Lauren Lukacek), marries Mr. Snow (William Hartery). Billy’s best friend is a no-good villain named Jigger (Adam Bashian) who leads him astray. Nettie Fowler (Joan Mitchell Carlo) is a calming housemother, with a glorious voice. Other principals include Brian Silliman, Emilie Roberts, Gail Yudain, and Lou Ursone, and the two spectacular dancers, Sandra Ross and Chris Canal, along with Lisa Boccuzzi, Katie Horn, Katie Oxman, Kristen Jones, and Joao Pedro Cary, Gregory Lawrence Gardner, and Vince Ricco.

Billy is an abusive husband, and although the direction does not flinch from that fact, it also emphasizes tender scenes in which his good side is shown His epitaph, as far as the musical is concerned, might read: Billy Bigelow, considered by many to be a real skunk, was nevertheless loved by folks who knew him. The story line implies that a second chance exists after wasted moments in relationships. That’s true, but more true before the book is closed. Nevertheless, you’ll walk on with great hope in your heart when you’ve seen this terrific “Carousel.”

Tom Nissley, for the Ridgelea Reports on Theatre
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