Review: CAROUSEL Has June Bustin' Out All Over at Broadway At Music Circus

Now on Stage Through July 3

By: Jun. 30, 2022
Review: CAROUSEL Has June Bustin' Out All Over at Broadway At Music Circus

The world has changed a lot since 1945, when Carousel opened on Broadway. The Tony Awards hadn't been established yet. Interracial marriage was not yet legal. Its score speaks of a bygone era when people comported themselves with a certain modesty and societal rules were very different. One would wonder how such a show has survived through the years, but Rodgers and Hammerstein's second musical has themes that are relevant today. Domestic violence, poor choices, hope, and redemption are all things that society still experiences.

Adapted from Ferenc Molnar's 1909 play, Liliom, Carousel revolves around the romance between millworker Julie Jordan and charismatic carousel barker Billy Bigelow. After both lose their jobs because of their budding relationship, the financial strain breeds volatility until Julie learns that she is pregnant. Billy is thrilled and agrees to a risky venture posed by career criminal Jigger Craigin. When the plan goes awry, Julie is left with her best friend, Carrie, and cousin, Nettie Fowler, to help pick up the pieces.

This Broadway at Music Circus production of Carousel does an excellent job of keeping the show fresh and engaging. Nate Bertone's scenic design is captivating from the opening act of "The Carousel Waltz," with beautiful props and clever staging and movement replicating an actual carousel. The lighthearted scene moves to one of wonder, with falling cherry blossoms sending a silent message to Julie and Billy in "If I Loved You." The scenic aesthetic is complemented by beautiful costumes by Mary Folino. She has successfully created a social stratum with 1873-era clothing that needs no dialogue to convey a message, especially when Billy and Julie's daughter, Louise, is taunted in "Ballet."

The cast is a who's who of Broadway talent, with James Snyder leading the show as Billy Bigelow. Snyder, a Sacramento native, was most recently seen on Broadway as Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. He brings Billy to life with a charisma that evokes memories of Technicolor movies and screen idols of old. His 7-minute "Soliloquy" was a powerful testament to fatherhood and would have made Gordon MacRae proud. Teal Wicks, who also hails from Sacramento, has starred on Broadway in The Cher Show, Finding Neverland, Jekyll & Hyde, and Wicked as Elphaba. Wick's Julie Jordan is spunky, naïve, and a little bit lost in her devotion to her ne'er-do-well husband, Billy. Her serious side complements the giggly persona of her best friend, Carrie. Carrie is played by Diana Huey, who steals the show in her numbers, "Mister Snow" and "When the Children Are Asleep." Huey has toured nationally as Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid. Carrie's love interest, Enoch Snow, is a Music Circus favorite, Jared Gertner. Gertner has been seen recently at Music Circus as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors and as LeFou in Beauty and the Beast. Rounded out by a hearty ensemble and super-charged choreography by Peggy Hickey (particularly "Blow High, Blow Low"), Carousel is a must-see in Broadway at Music Circus' much-anticipated inaugural post-pandemic season.

Most will recognize the songs that made Carousel famous and will love the performances of "If I Loved You," "You'll Never Walk Alone," and the brilliant "June is Bustin' Out All Over." While I'm cheering on some small changes (The Starkeeper/Dr. Seldon is played by a female, Karole Foreman), I'm also celebrating the things that make Carousel a classic. Cheers to Broadway at Music Circus for creating this contemporary masterpiece of nostalgia.

Photo credit: Charr Crail