Theater in Chicago: A Look at Light Opera Works Four-Star Production of Carousel the Musical.

 

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Natalie Ford (Julie Jordan) and Cooer David Grodin (Billy Bigelow) star in the Light Opera Works of Carousel.

The Background.

It's 1873, Ulysses Grant has just started his second term as president, the Civil War is recent history, the fifteenth amendment guaranteeing the right to vote to all MEN regardless of race color or previous condition of servitude has just been ratified. 

The Story.

In a small New England fishing village "June is Bustin' Out All Over" as the  townspeople are getting ready for a clambake.  The Carousel is the hub of social activity in the village.  People dress in their finest clothes to climb aboard the realistically carved and painted wooden horses.  On the carnival grounds an unlikely and deeply emotional love story is developing as a beautiful young impressionable Julie Jordon is falling head over heels in love for the about to be unemployed bad boy and carnival barker Billy Bigelow. 

The Cast. 

Cooper David Grodin (Billy Bigelow) who makes his Light Opera Works and Chicago area debut in Carousel is a force to be reckoned with.  His highly sensitive interpretation of Billy along with his grace and pitch-perfect voice makes for a believable character and a force to be watched.

Natalie Ford (Julie Jordan) who appeared with Light Opera Works as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, has a presence that transcends the stage. Her vulnerability, beauty and interpretation of the lyrics make this production of Carousel one of the best productions since the original.

Elizabeth Lanza (Carrie Pipperidge) makes her Light Opera debut in Carousel.  The sassy and brassy Carrie makes a compatible contrast to the more demure and pure Julie and an excellent foil to the stoic Mr. Snow.

George Keating (Enoch Snow) makes his Light Opera Works debut in Carousel.  He has appeared in many Chicago venues including Marriott Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Northlight Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare and more. He captures the  uptight and upright Snow making him believable without being a caricature.  His strong tenor voice blends beautifully with his love interest Carrie.

The Production.

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Light Opera Works has put together a believable, likeable top-notch production of Carousel.  The casting is genius with beautiful voices, graceful dancing and a 30-piece orchestra under the direction of Light Opera Works Roger L. Bingaman.  The somewhat smaller sized stage has been well adapted for the large cast production.  The staging from the town to the country, to the heavens is authentic and appropriate.  Light Opera Works keeps their tradition of mounting classical musicals complete without cutting any songs. The production features lavish sets (designed by Tom Burch) and colorful costumes (by Nikki Delhomme) with excellent lighting (by Andrew Meyers), Director/Choreographer Stacey Flaster.

Performance dates.
Hurry if you want to see this Rogers and Hammerstein classic.  The remaining dates for the show are:
Saturday, August 28, 8p.m.
Sunday, August 29, 2p.m.

Where.

Cahn Auditorium
600 Emerson Street
Evanston, IL.

Who.
Ages 12 and up.

Running Time.
2 hours, 45 minutes.

Ticket information.
Main floor, $92,  $77, $68, and $48.
Balcony, $77, $68, $48, $32.

Parking.
Parking is free and easy after 4p.m. weekdays and all day on weekends at  various Northwestern University lots within walking distance of Cahn Auditorium.

The Season.
The 2010 Season continues at Light Opera Works with "I Do! I Do!' October 3 through November 14 followed by "Hello, Dolly! December 26 through January 2, 2011. (www.light-opera-works.org)

The Music and Lyrics.
A hauntingly beautiful score, created by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, who produced a string of popular Broadway musicals in the 1940s and 1950s,  features beloved classics including "If I Loved You," "A Real Nice Clambake," and "You'll Never Walk Alone."

The History.
First produced in 1945, Carousel was revolutionary for its time.  The story adapted from Ferenc Molnar's play Liliom was one of the first musicals to contain a tragic plot.   Although Carousel contains cheerful and uplifting songs it concerns domestic violence. 

The Movie Verison.

In 1956 a film version of Carousel was made, staring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones.  According to the Movie Insider (www.themovieinsider.com) a new film of Carousel to star Hugh Jackman is planned for distribution by 20th Century Fox in 2013.

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