Carousel still turning strong
Fairground attraction: Left to right: Richard Ainslie (Billy Bigelow), Lucy Evans (Julie Jordan), Ann-Louise McGregor (Carrie Pipperidge), John Morrison (Enoch Snow), and seated Katherine Roberts (Louise Bigelow)
Crescent Theatre, Birmingham
POPULAR with amateur companies, this Rodgers and Hammerstein musical has a touching story, strong characters and some superb numbers that send the customers home humming those memorable tunes.
And the Arcadians do it justice. The quality of the leads is impressive, and the chorus work with songs like June is Bustin' Out All Over, A Real Nice Clambake and, of course, You'll Never Walk Alone is outstanding.
As soon as the curtain opens for the prologue, revealing a colourful amusement park scene and a pretty carousel that actually revolves with members of the cast on the wooden horses, you get the feeling that a treat lies ahead. Sit back and enjoy!
It helps, of course, that the casting is so good, with Richard Ainslie a powerful Billy Bigelow, the fairground barker who marries one of his young customers but is a real handful with his temper after losing his job and falling into bad company.
A special moment in the show comes when, after learning that his wife is pregnant, he sings with real feeling about the prospect of caring for the child – My Boy Bill....or could it be a girl?
Lucy Evans, playing Julie Jordan, is the ideal partner for Billy, and there are fine performances from Ann-Louise McGregor (Carrie Pipperidge), John Morrison (Enoch Snow), Chris Hinton (Jigger Craigin), Stella Rourke (Mrs Mullin) and Katherine Roberts (Louise).
Rosemary Stacey (Nettie Fowler) sings beautifully, particularly in You'll Never Walk Alone when she consoles the heartbroken Julie.
Just one scene needs a little improvement. There is a lack of conviction in the way Billy takes his own life rather than go to jail following a failed mugging attempt.
How good to see so many young children performing in this show. They are the life blood of the company and deserve the enthusiastic applause they receive.
Full marks, too, for the set designers. It is obvious that great care has been taken to ensure the scenery fits the action.
During rehearsals company members had to cope with several hiccups, but in the words of the song, they walked through the storm with their heads held high.
Direction is by Sonya Williams, with Clare Fray's choreography and Stephen Barchan's musical direction.To 17.4.10.