Date 13th March 2020
Society Portobello and Joppa Church Drama Group Edinburgh
Venue Portobello and Joppa church
Type of Production Musical
Director Shona Cowie
Musical Director Nancy Kent
Choreographer Jane Coatham,Sylvia Cowie,Amber Kelly,Lynne Kelly


Author: Dorothy Johnstone

Carousel’, described as a truly classical musical about two star crossed lovers Billy Bigelow, a handsome but ill mannered carousel barker and Julie Jordan, a naive and selfless young mill worker, is said to be one of the most lavish and celebrated scores of all time with wonderful music for leads and chorus. The storyline is quite dark and controversial and perhaps doesn’t appeal to all but this emotionally charged production was very well staged indeed.

The opening ‘Carousel Waltz’ played by the orchestra brought the fairground to life. Bright coloured costumes, a dancing bear, balloon sellers and clowns entertaining the bustling crowd set the scene with all the fun of the fair.

The contrasting emotions were well conveyed by the various characters. Aiden O’Brien played well as the young, rough and ready Billy delivering his soliloquy with real feeling and conviction. The contrast between the ‘bully boy’ Billy and the tender Billy when he realises the wrong he has done was put across with sincerity. Rachael Harvey was a delightfully innocent Julie singing well and so believably distraught in Billy’s death scene. The partnership of the feisty Carrie (Mariel Main) and the ambitious Enoch Snow (Martijn van Waveren) worked well with both enjoying the fun and humour the parts demand and bringing light relief to this dramatic piece. The Snow family of youngsters were quite charming.

Greg Holstead gave a strong performance as the ‘baddy’ Jigger with his gruff voice and intimidating actions as he tricks Billy into what turns out to be a fatal situation. Angela Bell portrayed a genuinely kind and caring Aunt Nettie as she gently sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ The widowed owner of the carousel Mrs. Mullin who has an eye for the barker was well characterised by Poppy Malone. Other supporting cameo roles were all well played with confidence.

There is plenty for the chorus to do in ‘Carousel’ and the lively, enthusiastic company sang and moved well especially in ‘June Is Bustin’ Out All Over’ and the Clambake. The male chorus was in excellent voice in ‘Blow High, Blow Low’ which was enhanced by a well choreographed hornpipe while the female chorus sang beautifully with Julie in the sentimental ‘What’s The Use Of Wond’rin’. There was some lovely choreography throughout with the dream ballet when Billy makes his return to earth simply but effectively portrayed.

The final ‘If I Loved You’ and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ were sung with real passion and emotion by the company bringing a tear to the eye. The small, well directed orchestra supported the singers well. This was a most enjoyable production which showcased what is arguably one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s best works. Very well done indeed.