Cheryl Barrett | 30 Apr 2014 03:33am
Life is a Carousel with Cowes Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society
I have seen Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals Oklahoma!, South Pacific, and The King and I, but this was the first time I had seen Carousel. A rather dramatic musical it had plenty of tragedy and comedy to keep people on the edge of their seats. Carousel is a show about redemption and forgiveness with a great storyline, humour, drama, love, tragedy, and a few memorable singalong songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, such as; ‘If I Loved You’, ‘June Is Bustin’ Out All Over’ and the very moving ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, which for most of us is associated nowadays as being Liverpool Football Club’s anthem.
The play on which Carousel is based, Liliom, by Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár, is rather dark in places and portrays the fate of a servant girl who falls in love with and marries a circus barker who beats his wife and dies during a robbery attempt, then returns to earth only to prove his soul completely unredeemable. This was never going to be a light fluffy musical… To quote Stephen Sondheim, who was a close friend of Hammerstein; ‘Whilst Oklahoma! is about a picnic, Carousel is about life’.
CAODS production of Carousel at the Trinity Theatre was well staged. The opening scene at the fair featured a carousel and set the mood as the ensemble portray the back-story in which Julie and her pal Carrie catch roving Billy’s eye. The main cast members were ably supported by the rest of this large cast. Singing, by both the ensemble and the principals was good. The principals had a good grasp of their characters. Nicola Berryman, as Julie’s friend Carrie Pipperidge, has a delightful soprano voice and set the standard with a fine performance. Her on stage partnership with David Stradling as easy going Enoch Snow, was particularly impressive. Duncan Greaves gave a credible performance as delinquent Billy, conveying the character’s arrogance and sense of bewilderment when he realises he has fallen in love with Julie. Victoria Pitt gave a moving performance as Julie, portraying a prim persona as she entrances Billy and bewilderment when Billy attacks her. Their duet, ‘If I Loved You’ was very moving, as was Billy’s reprise of the song. Sue Berryman shone throughout as kindly Nettie Fowler, and gave a fine vocal performance leading ‘June Is Busting Out All Over’. There were other fine performances from Peter Arnott as Jigger, and Michael Whitwam who doubled up as Dr Seldon and the Star Keeper. Chloe Ayres also did well as the Heavenly Friend. Joan Savill does an excellent job as Mrs Bascombe as does the show’s director, Daphne Brown who plays jealous carousel owner, Mrs Mullen. The American accents were good and consistent for the most part.
One of my favourite songs was when the male chorus sang Blow High, Blow Low – lovely choreography here and the men performed it beautifully. The long ballet sequence, set 16 years later with Hayley Greaves as Billy and Julie’s daughter Louise, worked extremely well – congratulations to the dancers from the Isle of Wight College for their insightful interpretation and portrayal of the ballet, which was projected onto a screen. Although I felt that this was a tad too long, it was nevertheless a touching scene as Billy watches his daughter Louise.
Directed by Daphne Brown, who doubled up as Mrs Mullens, this performance was very enjoyable. Setting the orchestra onstage in a band stand/pavilion added to the whole carnival atmosphere. The orchestra played well throughout and Alex Quilter’s musical direction and Ruth Lyon’s choreographic input ensured a good production. I was singing along with the exuberant celebrations at the ‘Real Nice Clambake’ which was well staged and had some lovely vocals. The set was simple yet effective – the backdrop to the beach clambake scene was well designed. Costumes were well suited to the era. Steve Raybould ensured sound was effective and the stage well lit.
Congratulations to all involved with this production. The ensemble pieces were particularly strong. Room for improvements are just to pick up the pace in places and slicker scene changes – it seemed an age before the curtains opened.
I recommend a visit to the Trinity Theatre, Cowes to see Carousel with performances on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd May.
- : admin
- : 26/04/2014