The enterprising producers begin this years critically acclaimed production of SUNSET BOULEVARD starring Glenn Close and the previous years mega-revival of SWEENEY TODD have just announced that their next collaboration with English National Opera at the Coliseum will be CAROUSEL. This revival of the much loved Rodgers and Hammerstein classic from 1945 will star Alfie Boe and Catherine Jenkins.
The enduring appeal of CAROUSEL is all about the extraordinarily tuneful score because the story and themes have dared badly. It's the story of how good girl Julie marries bad boy Billy, a violent criminal and ultimately learns that it's ok if he hits her as long as it's done with love. Meanwhile he learns to get all sentimental about the women he's mistreated. Directors tie themselves in knots trying to interprets all this in a politically correct way... and usually give up.
So let's ignore that and focus on the songs by the the duo who also wrote OKLAHOMA, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, SOUTH PACIFIC and THE KING AND I. CAROUSEL includes the heart melting IF I LOVED YOU, the feel good JUNE IS BUSTING OUT ALL OVER, the epic reflective musical monologue MY BOY BILL and the guaranteed tear jerker YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE later famously appropriated as an unofficial theme tune for Liverpool Football club, you can hear their fans intoning it even today.
Alfie Boe will play the errant Billy, a some time fairground barker. A massively successful recording star, he's been making a big noise in musical theatre over the past few years as Jean Valjean in LES MISERABLE first in the U.K. and then on Broadway where he also worked with Baz Lurman, in La Boheme, and took over the lead role in FINDING NEVERLAND.
Katherine Jenkins also shifts a lot of records, she's a lyric mezzo soprano, who's made many TV appearances singing light operatic hits leading to her being awarded an OBE and performing at the Queens birthday celebrations. Worryingly acting is entirely absent from her CV to date. Producers must be crossing everything that her lack of acting experience won't scupper the project.
The other star of these presentations at the Coliseum is a full symphonic orchestra who have provided dazzling accompaniment to previous productions.
The combination of this and Richard Rodgers's shimmering score, said to be his favourite, should make for a very memorable evening.
CAROUSEL will be performed at English National Opera, London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4ES from 7th April – 13 May 2017.