Tue 18 to Sat 22 November 2003
Palace Theatre, Redditch
Producer – Beverley Hatton
Musical Director – Norma Kift
Choreographer – Val Archer
Assistant Producer – Tony Lacey
Society Accompanist – Pauline Sherlock
|Billy Bigelow||Mark Williams|
|Mrs Mullins||Carole Corden|
|Julie Jordan||Janna Mutton|
|Carrie Pipperidge||Alison Adams|
|Nettie Fowler||Shirley Stanley|
|Enoch Snow||John Hall|
|Jigger Craigin||Tony Lacey|
|Louise Bigelow||Amy Hatton|
|Heavenly Friend||Julie Keeley|
|Enoch Snow Jnr||James Haddock|
|Mr Bascombe||John Simcock|
Bev Hatton’s colourful production moves confidently through this favourite Rodgers and Hammerstein piece. There is a good ballet scene and a strong chorus, with the big numbers like June Is Bustin Out All Over and You’ll Never Walk Alone resounding from the close-packed stage, and the men giving Blow High, Blow Low as if their lives depended on it.
In other words, there is reliable backing for the strong principals, among whom Alison Adams makes the most of her opportunities as the pert Carrie Pipperidge, friend of Janna Mutton’s attractive-voiced Julie Jordan.
Mark Williams excels as Billy, Tony Lacey radiates nastiness as Jigger, and Carole Corden (Mrs Mullins) and Shirley Stanley (Nettie Fowler) come characterfully to their responsibilities. A slightly lighter touch would not come amiss with John Hall’s otherwise pleasing Mr Snow.
Evening Mail, Friday 21 November 2003
Another show, another winner
Another show, another winner! Against a merry-go-round of colour, sparkle and energy, the society brought this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic to life brilliantly. Set on America’s New England coast, this tale of love, tragedy and hope contains some of the most popular songs of all musicals and thorough justice was done to them by leads and chorus alike.
Janna Mutton was the suitably sweet-voiced heroine Julie, while Alison Adams gave us a delightfully skittish Carrie. Mark Williams hit the high notes impressively as Billy while other leads were also harmonious.
A previous review contained a lament for more youngsters and more men to join the cast. They have obliged. Indeed, one of them, a chorus member who also starred in the beach-side ballet, has such presence, a main part must be calling before long.
Redditch Advertiser, Wednesday 26 November 2003
Non-stop action and musical fun
This story of a doomed romance set in 1873 was one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s early successes and it is easy to see why. A bustling fairground scene opened the show and was well executed. Colourful costumes and wonderful songs, beautifully sung, were the hallmarks here.
Cheeky faced Alison Adams was perfect as perky Miss Pipperidge, singing about her beloved Mr Snow, while Carole Corden was very enjoyable as bossy but well-meaning Mrs Mullins. A great sound came from Shirley Stanley who was fabulous as the loveable Nettie whose volume was at full throttle with June Is Bustin Out All Over.
Mark Williams as Billy Bigelow was also in fine voice singing My Boy Bill, which was hauntingly touching. Billy’s death scene was the climax of the show and Janna Mutton as tragic heroine Julie was every inch the devoted and devastated young widow whose beloved was lead astray by slimy baddie Jigger (Tony Lacey).
Voices were crystal clear throughout and action was non-stop. The famous You’ll Never Walk Alone – Nettie again – was really sad but beautiful, demonstrating that even the saddest moments can still hold a grain of comedy – very reflective of real life.
Redditch Standard, Friday 28 November 2003
Outstanding performances from Janna Mutton (Julie) and Alison Adams (Carrie) led a cast which was strong all through. Mrs Mullins, Enoch, Nettie, Jigger and all the smaller roles were very well portrayed but Mark Williams (Billy) was not so convincing as a ‘straight’ leading man as he has been in previous comedy roles.
The wonderful score was very well sung by principals and chorus and was greatly enjoyed by the audience. At times the stage was overcrowded but with a large company and a small stage I suppose this is inevitable. Sound and lighting were impressive and the orchestra enhanced the whole production.
NODA News, Midlands Area, Spring 2004
When we chose to perform Carousel we realised it was a popular show, after all, this was the third time the Society has performed the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. What we didn’t know, however, was just how popular it would be – with the highest audience figures for a show in recent memory.
Over 2000 people enjoyed our six-day run at the Palace Theatre in Redditch, with sell-out nights on Friday and Saturday, and a hugely pleasing near-full audience for the Saturday Matinee. The other nights, too, were impressively busy.
Bev Hatton was joined on the production team again by Val Archer as choreographer. Our long-standing Musical Director, Norma Kift, took the conductor’s baton once again – this time with an 18-piece orchestra that was so large we had to remove one of the aprons from the stage! It was worth it, however, since the sound from the ‘pit’ was superb in every respect, and complimented the singing of the chorus and the leads wonderfully.
Once again we had difficulties placing every one of our huge company on the stage. This was especially apparent during June Is Bustin Out All Over, when there was far more ‘frock’ than stage on display – as the large numbers of ladies danced around in full flow!
The feedback from our audiences was superb again. Once again we heard the old phrase “the best show we’ve ever done”, but whilst it is nice to hear, we always have to take this with a pinch of salt!
The scenery was simple, but effective, leaving the stage as open as possible for the dancing sequences. Nice touches with ultra-violet lighting and glowing costumes gave the ‘heaven’ scene a ethereal quality.
All-in-all this was an excellent production of a classic musical that will be remembered for a long time. The show was a happy one throughout rehearsals, and the company had an excellent time during the week of the show.
Synopsis of the Show
- Mister Snow
- If I Loved You
- June Is Bustin’ Out All Over
- When The Children Are Asleep
- Blow High, Blow Low
- Soliloquy (My Boy Bill)
- A Real Nice Clambake
- What’s The Use Of Wond’rin’
- You’ll Never Walk Alone
- The Highest Judge Of All
The setting is a small coastal fishing village in Maine. It is 1873 and the folks are enjoying a visit to the local amusement park. The main attraction is the tough young barker of the carousel, owned by Mrs Mullins. His name is Billy Bigelow, and he is well known and much admired by many of the local young ladies.
On this particular day he meets a lovely mill-girl called Julie Jordan for the first time. It is clear they have fallen in love. Mrs Mullins is insanely jealous and fires Billy, although she desperately tries to win him back. Julie also loses her job when the local factory owner, Mr Bascombe, finds her out after curfew – and with a man!
Billy and Julie are soon married, but find life tough. Billy needs a job and often gets angry with his young wife. Julie confides in her best friend, the naive Carrie, who has also met her intended – Mr Snow, who lives for fish! Billy turns down a job from Mr Snow because his pride won’t allow it, and he befriends the local ne’er-do-well Jigger Craigin. Julie discovers she is pregnant and Billy, needing money for his baby, decides to join Jigger in a plan to rob Mr Bascombe.
Act Two begins at the annual clambake treasure hunt, where the girls compete for kisses from the men. Jigger and Billy use the event as a screen to rob Mr Bascombe, but tragedy strikes. The attempted robbery fails, Jigger escapes and Billy is left trapped. Screaming his wife’s name he kills himself.
A heartbroken Julie greaves, comforted by both Carrie and her guardian, cousin Nettie. Billy is taken to the gates of Heaven where the Starkeeper reminds him of the errors of his ways and gives Billy the chance to make amends.
He is sent back to Earth, but it is fifteen years after his death, and he sees his daughter Louise who is now a teenager. She is very lonely and much maligned by the local children, including the numerous children of Carrie and Mr Snow.
Billy speaks to his daughter, but when she won’t accept his gift of a star he slaps her. This doesn’t hurt Louise, but she rushes to her mother. Julie emerges and senses Billy’s presence. Later, Billy is allowed to attend Louise’s graduation, where he manages to give hope and optimism, both to his wife and his daughter. He then ascends to Heaven, knowing that they will all ‘never walk alone’…
Music by Richard Rodgers. Book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
Based on the play ‘Liliom’ by Ferenc Molnar, as adapted by Benjamin F Glaser.
Original dances by Agnes de Mille.
This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Ltd on behalf of The Rodgers and Hammerstein Theatre Library of New York.