Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel” is now playing at the Goodspeed Opera House, and it’s a truly handsome production, with lots in it to make you watch in awe and get teary-eyed about the story, and remind you again that such great dancing can take place on their compact stage and keep you mesmerized.
“Carousel” is a rough story based on the life of a do-it-yourself carnival barker (James Snyder), and a sweet young girl (Teal Wicks) 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 (Jenn Gambatese), marries Mr. Enoch Snow (Jeff Kready). Billy’s best friend is a no-good villain named Jigger (Tally Sessions) who easily leads him astray. Nettie Fowler (Anne Kannengeiser) is a calming housemother for young women who work in the mill. Other principals include Mrs. Mullin (Deane Lorette), who owns the carousel, and wants to own Billy as well, and the Star-Maker (Ronn Caroll), who represents a hokey kind of timeless ‘heaven,’ where Billy goes when he dies. There’s also a whole bevy of singers and dancers in the ensemble, who in many ways are the real stars of the show.
Rob Ruggerio directs. He’s known for fine work, and it shows. The carousel has been replaced by a beautiful single carousel horse created by Brent White, and choreography fills in the round and round part. You’ll also remember the costumes (Alejo Vietti), the great voice and incredible giggle of Jeff Kready, and the expert musical direction by Michael O’Flaherty of the talented Goodspeed Orchestra.
“Carousel” plays through September 29. Information and tickets are available at www.goodspeed.org, or you can call 860-873-8668.
Tom Nissley, for the Ridgelea Reports on Theatre