“Carousel,” which contains some of the most gorgeous and memorable songs ever written for a musical, may be a musical you’ve never seen, though it has been around since 1945.
The follow-up to “Oklahoma!,” Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s hugely successful debut as a composer-lyricist team, “Carousel” requires a huge cast by today’s standards, an orchestra that can do that glorious music justice, a set that conveys multiple locations. The price tag for doing all of that impressively can be steep for a 21st century professional theater.
Nonetheless, Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables has taken on the story of the ill-fated romance between carnival barker Billy Bigelow and millworker Julie Jordan as its big musical of the season.In director David Arisco’s production, you can literally see and hear where the money went (and where it didn’t go). But the chance to experience a well-sung musical theater classic is a chance worth taking.
Based on Ferenc Molnár’s play “Liliom,” “Carousel” is set in a little Maine seaside town in the late 1800s.Julie Jordan (Julie Kleiner), her friend Carrie Pipperidge (Lauren Lukacek) and the other young women who work at the mill owned by Mr. Bascombe (Kevin Reilley) visit a colorful carnival after work, and it’s there that Julie spots Billy Bigelow (Michael Hunsaker), the handsome bad-boy barker who coaxes pretty girls into riding the carousel.
Billy loves his job – which pretty much involves nonstop flirting – but finds himself as drawn to Julie as she is to him. That doesn’t sit well with the carnival’s owner, the widowed Mrs. Mullin (Laura Turnbull), who obviously has a friends-with-benefits relationship with her significantly younger employee. As quickly as you can say “musical theater plot device,” Billy and Julie scandalously give in to their passion, lose their jobs and enter into an unhappy marriage. Many twists and turns lead to an ending that mixes melancholy with touching redemption.
Arisco has cast his production with actors who connect with and powerfully deliver a score overflowing with now-classic songs. Kleiner’s pure, sweet soprano voice and Hunsaker’s robust baritone deliver every bit of the longing and promise of “If I Loved You.” As Julie’s cousin and protector Nettie Fowler, Lourelene Snedeker makes “You’ll Never Walk Alone” not just a reassuring prayer but a confirmation of community.Lukacek, who has a beautiful voice perfectly suited to “Carousel,” is a funny romantic as she sings “Mister Snow,” and she and Mark Sanders as her ambitious, controlling beau create pure delight with “When the Children Are Asleep.”
Hunsaker, who looks born to play Curly in “Oklahoma!,” gets and vocally meets the challenges of the lengthy “Soliloquy,” the fateful song in which Billy imagines becoming a father. He navigates the character’s hot-headed surliness, delivers the show’s controversial example of domestic violence (a slap that “feels like a kiss”), and makes the requisite mess of his life and Julie’s. Yet in the balancing act of positives and negatives that make for a complex character, Hunsaker’s hunky Billy rarely risks tarnishing his leading man appeal.
Nick Duckart makes for a crafty villain as Jigger, the guy who leads Billy astray, while Peter Haig is folksy and wise as the Starkeeper.
Choreography is a major part of the storytelling in “Carousel,” particularly in the ballet danced by Billy’s unhappy teen daughter Louise (Alexandra Van Hasselt) and the character called Carnival Boy (Macia McGeorge). Ron Hutchins gets expressive work from the actors in that critical number, while in dance sequences featuring the large ensemble he evokes the robust athleticism of “Newsies.”
Musical director Caryl Fantel, who conducts and plays keyboards in the show’s eight-musician orchestra, could have used more musicians. Accompanying a cast of more than 30, the ensemble at times sounds thin (even sporadically out of tune) in playing a score that’s meant to sound lush.
Costume designer Ellis Tillman’s work is bountiful, beautiful and evocative of time and place. Tim Bennett’s sets, displayed in a proscenium frame resembling water-weathered wood, are the work of a fine designer who has had to make do with a far-too-modest budget. Lighting designer Eric Nelson and sound designer Shaun Mitchell help mightily to create the warm colors of “Carousel.”
Actors’ Playhouse, the winner of dozens of Carbonell Awards and one of South Florida’s musical theater powerhouses, has earned an ardent fan base. “Carousel” will likely please those folks as well as anyone who appreciates fresh productions of great classic musicals. But if all the elements were as successfully realized as the performances and costumes, Actors’ “Carousel” might have been a production for everyone to treasure.
‘Carousel’ is an Actors’ Playhouse production at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, through Feb. 26; 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday; tickets cost $64 Friday-Saturday, $57 other performances (10 percent senior discount Wednesday-Thursday, $15 student rush tickets 15 minutes before curtain, based on availability); 305-444-9293 or www.actorsplayhouse.org
It is an awe-inspiring experience to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancers perform. They are well trained dancers, athletes and artists. Not often known is that some of the dance..
Back for an 8th season in Miami, the legendary Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater packs the house every year. With Liberty City hometown hero Robert Battle in his fifth year, we have many rea..
Awash in sunlight, around 50 women stand in a circle on the rooftop performance space of Casa Gaia in Old Havana, Cuba, as part of a belly-dance festival. Biodanza facilitator Karen Rodríguez..
Choreographer Jeanguy Saintus works primarily from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but his creative work has global appeal. He is a pioneering artist who blends Haiti’s traditional music and dance alo..
New life for a legacy ballet—a veritable choreographer-magnet—created a great buzz about Miami City Ballet’s third program this season. But at the Arsht Center for the Performing ..
Who doesn’t delight in fairies? Miami City Ballet, for the success of its third program of the season, is certainly banking on one. And, instead of wielding a magic wand, she comes eager to p..
Transgendered performance artist Scott Turner Schofield is a collector of stories. Growing up in the South, the tales that were told about the gay and trans community were the ugliest kind of..
The Miami Theater Center in Miami Shores is giving experimental dancer-choreographer Lazaro Godoy the opportunity to interweave his visual arts and performance passions in ArMOUR, a multimedi..
The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet artistic director Tom Mossbrucker and executive director Jean-Philippe Malaty have thrilled audiences world wide with stimulating and exciting performances, and Miam..
The future came a long time ago. That impression arose in two forward-pointing yet decades-old company premieres on Miami City Ballet’s second program of the season. In the opening performanc..
Tigertail’s ScreenDance Miami festival is now in its fourth year. One of the few festivals in the country dedicated solely to movement for film and video, ScreenDance aims high. The goal: a f..
The white walls and well-trod floor of a light-pierced studio at Miami City Ballet enclose a charmed space—a field of incalculable energy—as sets of coupled dancers rehearse, in q..
Myth has it that a Cuban who doesn’t dance is a rare creature. Like the endangered Florida panther, you could live an entire lifetime without ever sighting one. “We come from a dancing island..
Chorographer and educator Daniel Lewis has only taken two weeks’ vacation since he retired as the Dean of the Dance Department at New World School of the Arts five years ago. “Even then, I wo..
Never at a loss for words, artistic director Peter Londondescribes what has compelled him to undertake two powerhouse pieces of music for his newest performance venture of the Peter London Gl..
What happens to old dances? Do they slowly disappear as choreographers and dancers move on to other projects? This may well be the case unless an effort is made to revive the piece-- reconstr..
Miami-based choreographer Ana Mendez has been producing original and accomplished work in Miami for years. This December, she is closing out 2016 with a Grass Stains commissioned work set at ..
Blessed by good parentage and nurturing support, a hale and hearty ballet company has just been born in South Florida. Under the direction of Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Carlos Miguel Gue..
Tango, one of the most democratic forms of music and dance, grew out of the diverse working class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires in the late 1800s. The rich blending of different cultures mixe..
Seattle-based choreographer Pat Graney started working on her newest project Girl Gods in 2012. It is the second installment of a triptych that began with her 2008 project House of Mind. Yet ..
Jose Limon’s (1908- 1972) vision still endures and the company he founded is now in its 70th year -- a tribute to the man and the artist, and those who believe in his gifts. He did not set ou..
Choreographer Michael Clark's soundscapes aren't the usual -- he uses the music of the punk poets David Bowie and Patti Smith and early 20th century avant-garde French composer Erik Satie. He..
Flamenco performer Francisco Hidalgo, whose surname means “nobleman,” brought a bygone era of dignity and grace to life on the stage of the Miami-Dade County Auditorium in early November, in ..
I first saw the flamenco dancer Celia Fonta perform with her husband, Spanish guitarist and singer, Paco, some 20 years ago at Café Miro, a small Spanish tapas bar on Espanola Way in South B..
For many people it’s hard to imagine Miami without a vibrant art scene, but in 1987 Miami was just beginning its journey towards becoming a major hub for the arts, and New World School of the..
Silencio. Silence. In the words of choreographer and flamenco artist Francisco Hidalgo “dance rests on the beats of silence.” Los Silencios del Baile is making its U.S. and world preview this..
Reflecting on the brutal treatment she receives at the hands of Juliana Triviño, who plays her torturer in the October 28 Alma Dance Theater (ADT) production of “Cask,” fellow principal danc..
Seduced by the jazz in his dad’s music collection, a kid from Perth, Western Australia, takes up the saxophone at age 13. He grows up, moves to the United States and becomes a star. Dreams do..
Half way through his set at the North Beach Bandshell, singerDavid Crosby (http://www.davidcrosby.com/), 75, who has been to a festival or two in his illustrious career, paused between songs..
Florida in February has its own magic: gorgeous light, cooler temperatures, clear skies and soft sea breezes. Now, imagine those breezes carrying the moaning strains of Esperanza Spalding’s b..
“Heaven sends us habits in place of happiness,” two women of a certain age observe in a famous line from Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin. Yet the new Florida Grand Opera production makes th..
Nikolaj Znaider played in an orchestra for the first time at the age of nine, two years after he began to study violin. He still remembers the sense of discovery, as he listened to the childr..
Sun-drenched it is, but Miami is sound-drenched as well. Parrots screech complaints from the Grove’s canopy of palms. I-95 is a perpetual sound lab of squeaking brakes, tires rubbing asphalt ..
Flamenco and jazz have had a fitful relationship. The early, tentative approaches — such as the notable Sketches of Spain (1960) by Miles Davis and Gil Evans or Jazz Flamenco (1967) by ..
Creating music from car horns and bicycles and other non-instruments isn't new. Composer and conceptualist John Cage waxed poetic about traffic noise saying that there is a way "to capture an..
South Florida music lovers have a rare chance to see a homegrown star in concert - and there’s no admission charge. Bobby Thomas Jr., described by jazz legend Melton Mustafa as “the badde..
Desde Las troyanas de Eurípides hasta “Guernica” de Picasso, o de la canción “Blowing in the Wind” de Bob Dylan al diseño de las gorras rosadas que llevaron miles de mujeres en las protestas ..
En un discurso de 1977, el escritor argentino Jorge Luis Borges desmintió la idea de que la ceguera fuera un mundo de oscuridad cuando describió su propia “modesta ceguera”. Hablaba de ciert..
En su discurso de recibimiento del Premio Nobel, el poeta chileno Pablo Neruda afirmó que el poeta no es un "pequeño dios." De hecho expresó que el mejor poeta “es el hombre que nos entrega e..
En la cultura yoruba, y sobre todo en sus manifestaciones caribeñas como la afrocubana, las historias contadas oralmente por generaciones ocupan un lugar esencial. Esas historias, muchas de e..
En la serie artística Out in the Tropics, la tarima no discrimina, la sensibilidad de los intérpretes es inclusiva y todo público es bienvenido. Producción de la entidad local sin fines d..
El flamenco es una música de fusión. La tradición es de sobrevivencia, de cambio constante y adaptación al lugar y los tiempos. Mientras el sonido puede ser diferente, el espíritu de Nuevo Fl..
La problemática del cambio climático está que arde. Sobre todo en un estado como la Florida, en primera fila para sufrir consecuencias drásticas. Llegar al público con este mensaje e inspirar..
La música tiende puentes, y por más de media década ya, dos entidades artístico culturales del sur de la Florida, FUNDarte (http://fundarte.us/fundarte_event.php?id=221) y Miami Light Project..
La colaboración del pianista cubano de jazz Gonzalo Rubalcaba y la cantaora flamenca española Esperanza Fernández junta a dos artistas de primera línea en sus respectivos géneros sin miedo d..