“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
The process of creating “Shade,” choreographer Augusto Soledade’s latest full-length work, has been one of remembering and reconfiguring memory to discover new ways of talking about identity ..
Upcoming this week, Tigertail presents choreographer Myriam Gourfink and musician Kasper Toeplitz. Hailing from France, the two will be present for a 3-day residency at Subtropics’ South Beac..
From her home base at 6th Street Dance Studio in Little Havana, longtime Miami dance figure Brigid Baker has been slowly crafting a new performance piece. It’s not conceptual or political like con..
Karen Peterson is the artistic director of Karen Peterson and Dancers, a company that brings professional dancers with and without disabilities together in the same piece of choreography, and..
Revivals are hot on Broadway these days with “CATS”and “Hello, Dolly!“once again gracing the Great White Way. There is a certain nostalgia in taking a second or even third viewing of a belove..
What happens when urban dance style meets classical music? We’ll find out when Brooklyn-based hip-hop dance troupe Decadancetheater takes the stage, backed by Miami’s own experimental classic..
“What does it mean to belong? What does it mean to not want to belong?” These are questions that choreographer Reggie Wilson contemplates in his provocative piece “CITIZEN,“ which makes its M..
If even a modicum of redemption can be forged from the hellish after-effects of gun violence, we must listen to the communities most affected by the violence. To this end, “Trigger,” a hip-ho..
Celebrating 35 years is an amazing achievement for any dance company in Miami, but especially one founded in a decade better known for its ties to drugs than to the arts. Momentum Dance Compa..
For Tigertail Productions, April is the month of fire. Like their WATER Festival in 2016, this month’s FIRE Festival celebrates a single element in multiple art forms, including dance, visual..
During the month of April the organizers of the seventh iteration of the O Miami Poetry Festival intend every resident of Miami Dade county to encounter a poem or – even better – write one! An..
As the “home-grown” sweetheart of Miami City Ballet, Patricia Delgado is having her final performances this season before leaving the city and the company she loves to move to New York City.H..
Even people who can’t find Argentina on a map and believe tangos only happen in Paris know La Cumparsita’s iconic four beat opening. Like a bar’s last call, La Cumparsita tells tango dancers ..
Miami City Ballet will conclude its season this week with a rich selection of repertory pieces: two from Balanchine, in very expressive but distinct modes, and one from modern-dance master Pa..
Ballet Flamenco La Rosa’s studio evokes the feel of a tablao in Spain. The strumming of the guitar, the rapid-fire rhythms of footwork against the floor, and the soft voice of the singer reac..
Miami choreographer Augusto Soledade has been a fixture in the local dance world since he arrived here in 2004. His cast has shifted over the years and he continues to challenge himself artis..
In one duet, two dancers use their bodies as counterweights, springing forth from each other’s bodies with explosive power. In another, dancers form a sharp line before torsos undulate and fa..
Teacher, choreographer and activist Dale Andree is known for her ability to merge activism with dance. Andree founded and directs National Water Dance, a site-specific project that joins danc..
In 2016, Philadelphia-based Koresh Dance company crossed their 25-year mark. To celebrate, the company returns to Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts with a 25th anniversary..
From singers like Joan Baez to poets like Maya Angelou to anonymous knitters of pink pussy hats, creative women have played an essential role in this country as agitators and activists. Likew..
When Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami (DDTM) takes the stage this weekend, it will present a program rich in the cultural milieu of Miami. Co-founders Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra i..
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..
Project 305 has a simple aim – crowd-source a Miami symphony. For 100 days from January 31 to May 12 New World Symphony, in collaboration with the Knight Foundation and the M.I.T. Media Lab, ..
You hear the word “flamenco” -- what image comes to mind? A guitar? A dark-haired dancer? The color red, a ruffled dress? Did a piano by any chance enter the picture? Perhaps not. Pianist..
Critics on five continents have described her work as “indecent and breathtaking,” or some close variant. One blessed her for always “going too far.” Another stated he would prefer death to m..
Buzzing his lips and shaking his head, Rafael Davila gets ready to rehearse. In the Florida Grand Opera’s cavernous rehearsal hall in Doral, the floor is marked with tape to delineate the roo..
There’s a song James Blood Ulmer sings called “Jazz Is the Teacher, Funk is the Preacher.” If you bring in Mother Blues, along with the family hothead, Rock and Roll, you’ll have a better pi..
Ask about the Miami Sound to 10 people in South Florida and you’ll get 11 different answers. And yet, for more than 20 years, the Spam Allstars, a group founded and anchored by DJ Le Spam (a..
This year’s TransAtlantic Festival features local dance music stars, a Malian guitarist known as “the Hendrix of the Sahara,” and something unique: a Haitian rara band comprised entirely of women...
If the political movement that saw its birth after the November elections is in the market for a composer to set the score for its many marches, Frederic Rzewski might be a strong contender f..
In a combo that promises to be both sublime and rip-roaring, three generations of Cuban and Cuban diaspora musicians come together this Saturday at The Miami-Dade County Auditorium to celebra..
El 11 y 12 de mayo próximo tendrá lugar en el Miami -Dade County Auditorium el estreno en Estados Unidos de Scrutiny: The World Gone Astray(en español,Escrutinio: El mundo se ha ido a la deri..
Para el pianista y compositor cubano Omar Sosa la noción de una cultura global, sin fronteras, no es un concepto abstracto sino un tema personal. En su música, elementos de hip hop y rumba, ..
No hay que viajar a otro país para disfrutar en vivo de la música cubana del momento, la más innovadora, la que le da la vuelta al mundo. Basta con asistir a Global Cuba Fest, aquí mismo, en ..
Nadie como el bailarín y coreógrafo español Antonio Gades para describir el arte que lo hizo internacionalmente famoso cuando vivía: “Un extracto de fuego y de veneno, eso es el flamenco”. ..
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..