Carousel isnít a musical that comes to Broadway very often, and maybe thatís part of its power. This new Broadway revival reveals the haunting beauty of Rodgers and Hammersteinís lush score and the rich humanity of its characters. Itís also a great vehicle for Joshua Henry, whose powerhouse performance as antihero Billy Bigelow makes him a frontrunner for this yearís best actor in a musical Tony Award.
Henry isnít the only noteworthy actor in this stellar production, directed by Jack OíBrien. The magnificent Jessie Mueller brings a quiet strength, and a beautiful voice, to the role of Julie Jordan, Billyís patiently enduring wife, while opera great Renee Fleming wows the crowd with her two big numbers, ďJune Is Bustiní Out All OverĒ and the heart-wrenching ďYouíll Never Walk Alone.Ē
But Rodgers and Hammersteinís second musical, first on Broadway in 1945, challenges its cast and audience. Based on Ferenc Molnarís Liliom, Carousel, it has as its leading man a hotheaded carnival barker in coastal Maine who struggles to find employment and hits Julie. Operatic songs coexist with beautifully intricate ballet numbers from New York City Ballet choreographer Justin Peck. And the story goes in otherworldly directions atypical for musical theater.
Yet it evokes the struggles of ordinary Americans with depth and empathy, most notably in Billyís ďSoliloquy,Ē as his joy over his impending fatherhood is tempered by his worry over how heíll provide for her. Even if Billy never learns how to adapt to life, the hope is that his daughter wonít suffer a similar fate.
While the show isnít dated, the wonderful designs of Santo Loquasto (scenic) and Ann Roth (costume) are a welcome throwback to a pre-projection design era. Dark but uplifting, Carousel has lost none of its power.
By Diane Snyder
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Joshua Henry, Jessie Mueller, Renťe Fleming, Lindsay Mendez, Alexander Gemignani, Margaret Colin, Amar Ramasar, Brittany Pollack, John Douglas Thompson
Preview Open/ Preview Close Dates
Preview Opening 2/28/2018
249 West 45th Street
New York, NY 10036