de Ferrers Academy, Harehedge Lane, Burton.
Many of you will not only be familiar with Carousel – you may even have appeared in it – but for those to whom it is something new here is a quick catch-up.
Set in a coastal town in Maine, New England, Carousel tells the tragic, yet ultimately uplifting story of Billy Bigelow (Lee Smith) and Julie Jordan (Christina Bailey) and their troubled romance.
Carousel was the second musical from the minds of Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II and was an adaptation from Ferenc Molnar’s 1909 play, Liliom, set in Budapest.
Fairground barker Bigelow’s romance with millworker Jordan costs the pair their respective jobs. When she finds she is pregnant Bigelow attempts a robbery to provide for her and the unborn child but it goes wrong and Bigelow dies. He gets a chance to redeem himself, does so – the end.
I have seen it a few times myself but I have to say that this is the best-staged version I have had the pleasure of watching.
There is a very tangible chemistry between Christina Bailey and Lindsey Biddle – as Julie Jordan’s friend Carrie Pipperidge.
Lee Smith provides Bigelow with a suitable sense of a man in love who cannot express himself to the object of his affections.
Director Steve Foster has created a wonderful camaraderie on stage that shone in the ensemble numbers. Most notably for me in ‘June Is Bustin’ Out All Over’ led by Angela Wynne as Nettie Fowler a real showstopper.
There are, of course, other outstanding tunes such as ‘When The Children Are Asleep’ and most obviously – the most widely known outside of the show – ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ but for me the sheer exuberance of ‘June’ just shaded it.
In her programme notes chairman Angela Wynne points out that Louise, Bigelow’s daughter – played by Helena Stone in her first principal role – choreographed the ballet sequence she dances in scene four herself.
She is quite right to draw this to our attention as I thought the dance was superb and it was only when I sat down to write this review that I read Angela’s comments.
As Enoch Snow, the ever reliable Andy Last gave a performance of feeling and humour – especially his laugh – and Oly Wright was suitably malevolent as the real villain of the piece Jigger Craigin.
However, I must return to the whole cast once more as I thought they performed brilliantly as a unit and looked as though they were not only enjoying performing for us but were also very comfortable with each other.
A word about the orchestra and musical director David Blackwell as always practically invisible but driving the music along with feeling.
Finally, if you get a chance to get on stage for a bow on Saturday night, Mr Foster – take it.
You really have earned it.
Carousel – Burton Operatic Society
Tuesday 28th October – Saturday 1st November.
at De ferrers Academy, Harehedge Lane, Burton on Trent
Evening performances 7.30pm, Saturday Matinee 2.30pm
Tickets from £10
Telephone for Bookings or More Info: 01283 541552 or email