Baldwin Wallace University
Many people have a love-hate relationship with Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel. While multitudes adore the rich music that those two geniuses produced, others are repelled by the sexism and casual acceptance of abuse that pokes through. Not to mention a plot that lurches uncomfortably at times.
Whatever camp you're in, this dazzling production will likely make you a lover. Directed with passion and precision by Scott Plate, the ever-spinning circles—life and death, romance and rejection, tragedy and redemption—whirl into a most memorable event.
Adapted by R&H from a play set in Budapest, this musical takes place on the Maine seacoast in 1904. Scenic designer Jeff Herrmann's in-the-round set features a central, circular wooden deck bleached by sun and salt water, where the locals cavort.
The set functions splendidly on several levels. It offers the performers ample room to dance, since Gregory Daniels' muscular and often sensuous choreography requires some serious elbow room
The voices of all the performers range from good to exceptional, as one has come to expect from the B-W Department of Theatre and Dance and the Conservatory of Music. They are accompanied in this production by just two grand pianos, played with admirable nuance by music director Andrew Leslie Cooper and music supervisor Nancy Maier.
Some of the plot points are curious: When exactly did Billy and Julie get married? A posthumous good deed absolves all the crap you did when you were alive? Really? But this production sweeps you away with its spirit.
Indeed, it's a play with so many perfect moments along with a handful of off-notes that it's impossible to get all of it right all the time. But this production comes damn close.
Word has it that the short run is completely sold out. However, if someone offers you a couple tickets they bought and you're getting married that night, postpone the wedding. You can get hooked any day, but you're not likely to see a performance of Carousel as wonderful as this anytime soon.
Through Nov. 24, produced by the Baldwin Wallace University Department of Theatre and Dance & the Conservatory of Music,
Kleist Center for Art and Drama, bw.edu/theatre.