Ok, so you might not be the musicals ‘type’. Maybe you’re not a big fan of the West End (“Jersey Boys?? Sorry busy washing the cat.”) Maybe you just don’t agree with the concept of people singing in plays. Or maybe the mere thought of overly boisterous actors bouncing around the stage tap dancing with canes and speaking in ludicrous American accents sends shivers down your spine. Believe me, I know where you’re coming from. But some musicals genuinely offer something a little different and special; they are, truly, a cut above the rest.
Carousel – voted the best musical of all time by Time Magazine – is one of those select few. Written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, it’s a pretty dark and deep fare for a genre that typically likes to keep it upbeat (the duo’s previous creation, Oklahoma!, being a perfect example of this).
The main premise centres around Billy Bigelow, a fairground worker who loses his job working the carousel due to his boss’ jealousy over his loving relationship and thus declines into a life of crime in order to support his newly pregnant wife. The intricate storyline that unfolds deals with some difficult themes including morality, redemption and domestic violence.
This new production by Opera North at the Barbican is set to be world’s away from your typical musical fare. Not only does it feature real operatic singers, it also involves a full orchestra, led by conductor James Holmes, thus offering the impressive score the opportunity reach its full potential. Director Jo Davies is known too for taking lightweight content and giving it greater light and shade. It’s promising stuff.
Featuring classic songs ‘If I Loved You’ and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, Davies perhaps summed up the work best with a quote from fellow legendary musical composer, Stephen Sondheim: “Oklahoma! is about a picnic, whilst Carousel is about life and death.” Which is basically just another way of saying that Carousel is not your average musical: it’s a true experience – with a story and message that has never been more relevant than it is right now. Don’t miss out.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel by Opera North at The Barbican runs from 15 August 2012 – 15 September 2012. For more information or to book tickets, click here.