Rodgers and Hammestein’s Carousel first opened on Broadway in 1945 and then in London’s West End in 1950. The show has been revived many times over the years, most recently the short Opera North UK touring production in 2012. Now, Morphic Graffiti are bringing this classic show back to life in the intimate space of the Arcola Theatre in East London.
In the show we see carousel barker Billy Bigelow, who falls in love with millworker Julie Jordan (something which causes both of them to lose their jobs). After finding out Julie is pregnant, Billy plans a robbery to try to provide for his family. He sneaks away from the town Clambake festival to carry out the crime and sadly never returns. But when he gets to the gates of heaven he is given the opportunity to go back down to earth and see his (now teenage) daughter to make a mends.
The music is memorable and catchy. ‘June Is Bustin’ Out All Over’, ‘A Real Nice Clambake’ and of course the popularly known ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ were all being hummed along to, with toes tapping in the audience.
The staging and design of this production was perfect for this intimate venue showing that Carousel can work in a large or small venue.
Gemma Sutton shines in the role of Julie Jordan, showing her versatility as an actor having recently played the polar opposite Roxie Hart in Chicago at Curve Leicester. Australian actor Tim Rogers had a wonderfully powerful voice in the role of Billy Bigelow and Valerie Cutko was a delight to watch as the nasty Mrs Mullin. The stand out performers in this show though had to be Vicki Lee Taylor and Joel Montague (as Nettie and Enoch). They performed well together showing a real bond and believable connection with each other.
This production of Carousel was set in the years between 1929-1945 (tying nicely in with the year the show first opened on Broadway). Closer attention to detail could have been made in regards to some of male casts underwear which at times was showing big brand logos (of current day). A small faux pas!
A very enjoyable show in a lovely little theatre. Why not pop along to East London and give it a watch?
Reviewed by West End Wilma