Carousel

Date 15th March 2012
Society Maidstone Amateur Operatic Society
Venue Hazlett Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Toney Cassidy
Musical Director John Mills
Choreographer Carley Bright

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Author: Gordon Harris

If Carousel was based in England, it could, be re-titled “Fun at the fair”..with Billy Bigelow being a bit of “rough” falling for the sweet innocent Julie Jordan. Unfortunately for us it wasn’t, its based in the US. Julie ignoring the advice from all around her, she marries Billy. This being not a happy situation, it’s a design for desaster and wife bashing,and she becomes a widow after a planned  robbery goes awry. But the Story continues, lets face it,it is after all, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Billy returns from the grave to attempt some atonement to his bad doings. Carousel was Rodgers and Hammerstein's collaboration after the success of their previous hit Oklahoma. Maidstone Operatics mixed cast of  ‘veterans’ who are mere striplings themselves! Mixed with some very young blood…. good for Maidstone Operatic. All in fine fettle. But I find the strength continues to be their principals.Ben Smyth, Billy Bigelow, a strong lead a good voice, and in character. This was never more apparent than in Billy’s elongated soliloquy ‘My Boy Bill’. Kathryn Norman showed innocence and is vocally delightful as Julie, with the experience of Jennie Horn shining through as Carrie Pipperidge a very nice srongly acted performance both in singing and acting from Jennie. Other strong performances from Chris Chedzey, in good voice and characterisation as Enoch Snow, Terry Butler, suitably cast as evil Jigger Craigin, Julie Argent, the level-headed Julie’s cousin Nettie Fowler shone in her emotional “You’ll never walk alone,brilliant.!!, Katie Phillips as Louise Bigelow and Mike Sutton the upstanding mill owner Mr Bascombe, and Heather Worrel  as the frustrated carousel owner Mrs Mullin this lady is a supreb actress and gets my accolade for acting of the show.

And theres more, Barry Reynolds Starkeeper and Dr Seldon, Emma Edwards played a very reverend Heavenly Friend a  strong policeman in Andrew Robinson, a young James Elmore as as Enoch Jnr., who led his siblings with great cheekiness.Oh and I nearly forgot..(how could I) Ken Trafford as aptly named The Principal.!!!!

There is some lovely chorus movements,and dance choreographed by Carley Bright assisted by Nicky Ansel, particularly from the men in the Blow High, Blow Low number, but when it comes to the intricacies of actual dancing the ladies excelled,and they certainly looked as if they were enjoying it, and we did, too!

The dream sequence seemed an eternity, but, thankfully, Katie Phillips and David Moss ( hope this is correct not clear in programmme).makes it all worthwhile with a sure-footed and fluid ( whoops I sound like Louie Spence )performance.

An excellent 23 piece orchester ,is (out the back) under the tight direction of John Mills, who takes credit for a good chorus sound from a mixture of aged voices. Perfect sound from a large orchester well done John.

Scene changes! I go on about this over the years, to the point of boring myself. Carousel is usualy big on set. So, step forward Director Tony Cassidy and take a bow. Seamless transitions and minimal time wasted between scenes. Executed well by his stage manager John Carden and assisted by Liz Clark…  Alright, there was that gauze winging its way in and out, but at least the action continued without a break. Tony Cassidy’s direction for this Carousel was tight and slick and he directed the huge cast around the stage with not an inch to spare. Tony and Carly make a good pair,and it certainly showed in this Carousel.