Preview: Carousel @ Barbican Theatre

By Sam Smith Last edited 68 months ago
Preview: Carousel @ Barbican Theatre

Following last year’s production of South Pacific, this year’s late summer slot at the Barbican Theatre is occupied by another Rodgers and Hammerstein classic in the form of Carousel.

But while Bartlett Sher’s South Pacific came from New York, Carousel is a more home-grown affair. It is produced by Opera North, and has already received rave reviews from its runs in Manchester and Leeds. A week before its opening in London, we were granted special access behind the scenes to meet cast and crew and witness their first rehearsal in the venue.

Carousel is arguably Rodgers and Hammerstein’s richest work, focusing on a couple who even after marriage remain incapable of expressing their true feelings for each other (hence songs such as If I Loved You). It is normally set in New England in the 1870s but director Jo Davies has made the intelligent decision to transfer the setting to 1915. This is because when the action advances fifteen years, we can see sufficient variation between the two periods in a way that 1870 and 1885 would not have allowed for.

Watching the rehearsal we were struck by the dynamism and slickness of the choreography. Lindsay Posner’s production at the Savoy Theatre in 2008 may have CGI’d the revolving carousel, but here it is made up of sturdy horses and illuminated poles that, despite their weight, are wheeled smoothly into position and create their own swirling effects in the process. The ensemble is made up of thirty-five strong ‘all-rounders’, skilled in singing, acting and dancing, and we were impressed with the sheer extent to which the choreography mirrored the dramatic points that needed to be made.

Carousel runs at the Barbican Theatre from 15 August to 15 September, and with a production that promises to delve deep inside each character, as well as such memorable songs as You'll Never Walk Alone (regularly heard on the Anfield terraces), June is Bustin’ Out All Over and Soliloquy to look forward to, we can’t wait to see it!

For further details and tickets click here.

Photo: Slickly choreographed horses, poles and people make up the carousel.

Last Updated 10 August 2012