Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Carousel - Manchester (Tour, prior to West End)

Carousel by Rodgers and Hammerstein
Director: Lindsay Posner
Musical Director: David Firman
Choreographer: Adam Cooper
Reviewer: Stephanie Rowe

Carousel is one of the all time classics written by the fabulous Rodgers and Hammerstein and performed at many theatres since it was written in 1945 it was made into a film in 1956 and has become one of the best loved musicals ever. Having seen Carousel a few times on stage and of course the film I was looking forward to this production at the Opera House with the opera singer Lesley Garrett, unfortunately she was indisposed and her role of Nettie Fowler was taken by understudy Kathryn Akin.

The set by William Dudley shows a blue brick factory wall with a window looking on all the machinery, and as the girls leave their place of work for the evening it becomes a fairground with dancing girls and jugglers men on stilts and lastly giggling girls hanging around the Carousel hoping that the Handsome guy who works on it will show them some attention tonight. They all queue paying for their tickets and suddenly there it is on stage a Carousel achieved by the help of film onto a curtain, a very good use of technology. The stage setting changes a few times through the performance but it is the Carousel scene that made the most impact, with the dancers twirling and rising and falling like horses.

The story of the love affair between Billy Bigelow, a smooth-talking carousel barker, and Julie Jordan, a naive young mill worker, takes us through the many emotions we feel when we first fall in love to the reality that nothing is ever a bed of roses. The choreographer Adam Cooper has taken the classic dances we know and love in this musical and spiced them up but not too much to detract from the original along with the wardrobe master who has also stuck to the timeless costumes.

When reading the cast list for this musical I settled into my seat awaiting a fantastic performance as the last show I saw with a Teatro member in really took me to the wonderland that was and is theatre, so with Jeremiah James in the lead as Billy Bigelow I was waiting to be transported again into this wonderful place. Jeremiah sang his heart out throughout the show but sadly his acting was very unemotional and left me feeling empty and unable to connect with his character.

Alexandra Silber who played the role of Julie Jordon our naive young mill worker, works hard to make her part realistic and really puts her heart and soul into her performance, which is sadly let down by her leading man. Lindsey Wise played a brilliant role as Louise, Billy and Julie’s daughter. She had a feel for the role that was refreshing to watch and thou she has a few shows under her belt, I feel this is just the start for this fabulous young actress, and we will see a lot more of her in years to come.

The whole ensemble gave a good performance on the whole, again it could have had a lot more energy pumped into it making it worthy of being a west end show and ensuring its success in the west end, but at the moment it does need that extra energy. Director Lindsay Posner has done well to put together such a well loved musical and it could go on to better things, She just has to now take the cast and get them into shape prior to west end, it was just the occasional one or two who let the side down, but sadly this reflects on the rest of the show.

Overall an enjoyable musical bringing all the old favourites to life and making you want to tap your feet and sing along as a fair few of us did, it will always have its cult followers making it a show that ”Never walks alone”
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