CAROUSEL a June Bustin’ Out All Over on Broadway At Music Circus

The world has changed a lot since 1945, when Carousel opened on Broadway. The Tony Awards had not yet been created. Interracial marriage was not yet legal. Its score speaks of a bygone era when people behaved with a certain modesty and the rules of society were very different. One might wonder how such a show has survived over the years, but Rodgers and Hammerstein’s second musical has themes that are relevant today. Domestic violence, bad choices, hope and redemption are all things society still knows.

Adapted from the 1909 play by Ferenc Molnar, Liliom, Carousel revolves around the romance between carpenter Julie Jordan and charismatic carousel barker Billy Bigelow. After the two lose their jobs over their budding relationship, financial strain breeds volatility until Julie learns she is pregnant. Billy is overjoyed and agrees to a risky business posed by career criminal Jigger Craigin. When the plan goes awry, Julie reunites with her best friend, Carrie, and her cousin, Nettie Fowler, to help pick up the pieces.

This Broadway at Music Circus production of Carousel does a great job of keeping the show fresh and engaging. Nate BertonThe stage design is captivating from the opening act of “The Carousel Waltz,” with beautiful props and clever staging and movement replicating a real carousel. The light-hearted scene transitions to wonder, with falling cherry blossoms sending a silent message to Julie and Billy in “If I Loved You.” The scenic aesthetic is complemented by beautiful costumes by Mary Folino. She’s managed to create a social layer with 1873-era clothing that doesn’t need dialogue to convey a message, especially when Billy and Julie’s daughter, Louise, is mocked in “Ballet.”

The cast is a who’s who of Broadway talent, with James Snyder leading the show as Billy Bigelow. Sacramento native Snyder was recently seen on Broadway as Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. He brings Billy to life with a charisma that evokes memories of Technicolor movies and screen idols of yore. His 7-minute “Soliloque” was a powerful testament to fatherhood and would have Gordon MacRae proud. teal highlightsalso from Sacramento, performed on Broadway in The Dear Show, Finding Neverland, Jekyll & Hyde, and Nasty like Elphaba. Wick’s Julie Jordan is brave, naive, and a bit lost in her devotion to her evil husband, Billy. Her serious side complements the giggling persona of her best friend, Carrie. Carrie is played by Diana Huey, which steals the show in its numbers, “Mister Snow” and “When the Children Are Asleep”. Huey toured nationally as Ariel in Disney’s The little Mermaid. Carrie’s love interest Enoch Snow is a Music Circus favorite, Jared Gertner. Gertner was seen recently at the Music Circus as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors and like LeFou in The beauty and the Beast. Completed by a warm ensemble and a boosted choreography by Peggy Hickey (especially “Blow High, Blow Low”), Carousel is a staple of the highly anticipated post-pandemic inaugural season of Broadway at Music Circus.

Most will recognize the songs that made Carousel famous and will love the performances of “If I Loved You”, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and the brilliant “June is Bustin’ Out All Over”. While I encourage a few small changes (The Starkeeper/Dr. Seldon is played by a woman, Karole Foreman), I also celebrate the things that make Carousel a classic. Kudos to Broadway at the Music Circus for creating this contemporary masterpiece of nostalgia.

Photo credit: Charr Crail