BWW Review: Media Theatre's CAROUSEL
One of R&H's most beloved musicals that boasts 890 performances including 5 Tony Awards in 1999. Carousel is as solid as a giant clam shell on a New England coast to be a sure hit to any professional theater company. Media scores fairly high with this production.
The biggest asset is a stellar cast. Digging deep to assure the production is solid Media's principles welcome from Broadway, Joseph Spieldenner (Company, Les Miz and South Pacific) as the misguidEd Barker Billy Bigelow. Making her Media debut as Julie Jordan is Maxwell Porterfield whose seasoned soprano is stunning! Another new comer to Media is George Slotin as Mr. Snow with a long line of theater credits and a heck of a personality and voice for the salty ole sea feller! Madalyn St. John, a local talent plays a cute and spunky Carrie Pepperidge bringing a welcome breath of fresh air to the production. Elisa Matthews, who stunned the Media crowd with her appearance as Francesca in their production of "Bridges of Madison County", plays the motherly Nettie Fowler. Carl Smith another Philly veteran actor plays the shady Jigger.
The story is well known; a tale of mismatched lovers Billy Bigelow, a carousel barker and Julie Jordan, a local factory worker in the late 1800's in a small New England fishing village. Things go very wrong quickly as Billy finds himself out of work, married to Julie who becomes with child and desperately turns to Jigger for a botched up attempted robbery and ends up dead and whisked away to the sky awaiting his fate. He's given a second chance to redeem himself with a brief visit to earth to seek out his daughter and wife.
Media's staging is simple as the focus is on the story, acting and the glorious score; however the overall flow never quite captures the magic of the piece. The opening Carousel scene is less than a carnival atmosphere. Staging is a bit dark and entrances and scene changes a bit awkward. It's not until the final few scenes when the heavens open up with Smokey clouds and Billy's daughter Louise (Beada Briglia) and the Carnival Boy (Willem Guenther) grace the stage with a beautiful ballet piece that the stage comes to life. The 12 piece ensemble well choreographed by the talented Dann Dunn performs well as this is a fairly low energy piece.
"Carousel" has a memorable score, featuring songs such as "If I Loved You" and "You'll Never Walk Alone". "When the Children Are Asleep" "June is Bustin' Out All Over". Billy's "Soliloquy" is well performed by Spieldenner and Matthews' "You'll Never Walk Alone" is inspiring. All the songs are well delivered and worthy of praise.
The Media Theatre's production is directed by its Artistic Director Jesse Cline, with music direction by Ben Kapilow. "Carousel" is on stage September 20 through October 22. GET TICKETS or call 610-891-0100.
Photo Credits: Greg Carroczio