15th May 2015

Leeds Grand Theatre – May 13th to 23rd

Carousel is many things – a musical, a comedy, a tragedy and a ballet, all rolled into one. But if you’ve only seen the film, think again before you bypass this production from Opera North.

Rodgers and Hammerstein are synonymous with the likes of The Sound of Music, Oklahoma, The King and I and State Fair, but Carousel, based on the play ‘Liliom’ by Agnes de Mille, was a brave move in its day as the story controversially centres on the anti-hero.

After visiting the carousel in their home town of Maine, Julie Jordan (Gillene Butterfield) and Carrie Pipperidge (Aoife O’Sullivan) are on their way home when they are accosted by Mrs Mullin (Michele Moran), the widow of the carousel owner, and told to stay away. Enter Billy Bigelow (Keith Higham) and it soon becomes clear that the widow has a soft spot for her barker, with jealousy rearing its ugly head after she observes him putting his arm around Julie whilst on the ride.

Bigelow is a womanising lowlife and thinks nothing of breaking hearts until, of course, he finally meets the girl of his dreams in Julie Jordan. But can she steer him on the straight and narrow, especially with the arrival on the scene of the rougish Jigger Craigin (Stuart Neal)?

From the opening bars of The Carousel Waltz, through to the delightful You’re A Queer One, Julie Jordan, the unforgettable June Is Bustin’ Out All Over, the sublime When The Children Are Asleep and, perhaps the most well-known song, You’ll Never Walk Alone, you know you can rely on the talents of Rogers and Hammerstein to deliver and the Orchestra of Opera North to get it just right.

To single anyone out of this production cast wise would be a crime, for everyone gave their all. Carousel is, in the main, a fantasy and, in the wrong hands, could have descended into one embarrassing cheesy mess. But with such attention to detail in direction, set and costume design, choreography, lighting and video design, this production cannot fail to impress, especially when you have a world class orchestra on your side.

You will be kicking yourself for years if you miss this!

Written by Kevin Petch