Carousel

Date 4th April 2023
Society Pied Pipers Musical Theatre Club
Venue ADC Theatre Cambridge
Type of Production Musical
Director Cat Nicol
Musical Director Ana Sanderson
Choreographer David Mallabone
Written By Rodgers and Hammerstein

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Author: Julie Petrucci

First produced on Broadway in 1945 and lauded as Rodgers and Hammerstein’s finest musical - which was adapted from a 1909 Hungarian play, one would imagine that nearly 80 years later the show may well be somewhat dated.  Well, this definitely wasn’t the case with this production from Pied Pipers.  There is an art in getting the balance of this tragic story right and Director Cat Nicol certainly found it. She managed to extract humour from the characters and situations but never lost sight of the main theme of the story.

I must start by congratulating set designer Sarah Deboys and the set building team for the imaginative set. What a fabulous idea to fly in the super carousel horse and well done to the flyman/operator who controlled the movement.  The company was used extremely well during this opening, setting the scene and telling a ‘story within a story’. Some lovely characterisations from ensemble members are to be noted as they brought all the fun of the fair to life.

It is a long time since I have seen or heard so many strong singers in all lead roles.  

Billy (Luke Thomas) and Julie (Vikki Jones) the main leads were outstanding. Both have exceptional voices. The scene in the park where Billy and Julie more or less fall in love is always slowish after the energetic opening and strangely the beautiful melody “If I Loved You” is the closest you get to a duet from them. Later, when Billy finds he is to become a father, Luke’s rendition of Billy’s soliloquy was, to my mind, superb.

Carousel is a serious play with dark overtones but Carrie (beautifully played and sung by Abigail Mann) and Enoch Snow (amusingly played by Edward Chancellor) sing the lovely duet “When the Children Are Asleep” and together with Jigger (Warren Clark) – a nasty piece of work- provided most of the humour in the show.  Sam Billing gave us a beautifully judged Mrs Mullin and Philippa Clark (Nettie Fowler) superbly sang the show stopper “You’ll Never Walk Alone” leaving many with a lump in the throat.

Set, costumes, lighting and sound were of a high quality. I loved the lighting effect with the basket of stars uplighting Billy and the Starkeeper (Richard Scarr) as they watched Isabelle Nugent a talented young dancer playing Louise Bigelow beautifully execute David Mallabone’s choreography.  All this plus a first-class orchestra, under the baton of Musical Director Ana Sanderson, which enhanced the whole performance. 

Every aspect of the production was first-class and alongside the principal characters were a host of supporting cast, many capable of lead roles themselves, taking minor and company roles, without whom, no show is possible.

The touching final scene at the Schoolhouse and a finale of “If I Loved You” and  “You’ll Never Walk Alone” brought the curtain down on a terrific production.