Theatre Name: Walnut Street Theatre
Show Name: Carousel
Opening Date: May 15, 2007
Reviewer Name: Ruth Goldman
Date Review Submitted to SMO: May 25, 2007
Some of the most beautiful music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II’s cherished play, Carousel, are being performed at the Walnut Street Theatre.
This wonderful production is based on a serious play by Ferenc Molnar titled, “Lilliom” which means tough lilly, referring to the leading man. The Original Dances are by Agnes de Mille and are lively and choreographed to the period by the talented Michelle Gaudette. The live orchestra is very professional and a welcoming addition to the musical. Douglass G. Lutz’s musical and vocal direction truly made the show come to life.
This is a love story, set in the early 1900’s in a small fishing village on the coast of Maine. The young women work at a mill, weaving and waiting for a man to come into their lives. The men fish and when spring comes they search for the opposite sex as is seen among the talented leads and ensemble. They are not wealthy but they know how to enjoy life. “This Was a Real Nice Clambake” shows us their after-hours activities.
The set is deceptively simple, especially when the entire cast goes to a clam bake on an island across from the mainland on the rocky coast of Maine. They arrive in boats in a sea of fog. There are other excellent special effects during the scene. The lighting design by Jack Jacobs magnificently enhances that scene and the whole production.
The only thing I would have liked to see in the set design was some color during the number, “June Is Busting Out All Over.” Perhaps some blossoms on a tree or bush.
The actors/singers were well directed by Bruce Lumpkin and they outperformed all expectations. Billy Bigelow (Jeffrey Coon) had a strong baritone voice with a large range made to fit this challenging role. He could play tough and at times be caring. Carrie Pipperidge (Cary Michele Miller) is talented in her singing and acting abilities and she projects both strength of character and caring for her close friend and female lead, Julie Jordan (Julie Hanson.) Julie showed where her love lies and she, too, had a strong and professional voice.
Mrs. Mullen, (Mary Martello) had such strength in her acting and singing. The memorable song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is a sad-yet-uplifting song we all know and Katie O'Shaughnessey sells itbrilliantly. Enoch Snow (William Hartery) really showed his professionalism when he sang “Mister Snow” and “When the Children Are Asleep.” This fabulous display attests to the versatility of William. He played Gus, Growltiger and Bustopher Jones in the touring company of “Cats” and has many other credits. Jigger (Christopher Marlow Roche) portrays a great villain. He moves like a spider and is totally believable in his role.
The play fast forwards fifteen years during Act II, when Billy is in Heaven and is allowed one day on earth. He chooses a special day and in the most moving scene of the play there are sobs to be heard throughout the audience and it’s my assumption that not a dry eye was to be found in the auditorium. The direction and acting in this scene is one of the finest you will see.
There was not a weak performer among the entire cast and the Snow children were adorable and well cast.
I would highly recommend this musical play to people of all ages.
It will run until July 15, 2007 at the Walnut Street Theatre, www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org