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Theater Review: “Carousel”

By Kristin Aoun

Feb. 2, 2010 9:46 p.m.

It is so disappointing that with just a little more attention paid to detail, a great show could have been incredible.

Reprise Theatre Company’s production of “Carousel” is a show exactly like this.

The overture begins and the stage is filled with dancing cast members in beautiful costumes, which immediately create the atmosphere of late 19th century New England. A carousel appears, cleverly made out of strings of lights, wooden boxes and chairs on a rotating set.

The plot is not exactly the typical Rodgers and Hammerstein show, despite being written right after “Oklahoma!” The lyrics are good, the music is good, but the plot is weak. Only in musical theater do people quit their jobs so they can talk to each other for the first time, and then fall in love within ten minutes. A young woman, Julie, meets and marries a brutish carousel barker, Billy Bigelow. The rest of the tragic plot centers around their unhappiness, as Billy tries to get money to support them but fails, and in his exasperation hits his pregnant wife, who he still loves dearly.

Robert Patteri (Billy) is the greatest disappointment of all because he is the closest to perfection. When Patteri sings, the audience is absolutely mesmerized; his acting during the songs is captivating and his voice is practically perfect. However, the audience never falls in love with his character. In the show, Billy hits his wife and daughter, despite his great love for them. This would work if it were directed and acted as if Billy cannot help himself and instantaneously regrets his actions, making the audience feel empathetic for him. However, without this coming across, the audience has a hard time embracing this wife beater; this love story ends up having the tragedy of “West Side Story,” but not the romance.

Alexandra Silber (Julie) shows the character’s aging believably, and in general, sings expressively. However, when she sings “If I Loved You” on the higher notes, her voice moves from a pleasant ingenue sound to an awkwardly operatic sound that ruins this classic musical theater song.

On the other hand, when Victoria Strong (Julie’s aunt Nettie) sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” she does the epic number justice, with her great stage presence and strong but superb soprano voice.

There is a surprisingly large amount of dancing in the show. Lee Martino excellently choreographed the show, using some truly amazing partnering work. The pas de deux between Billy’s daughter (Kimberly Mikesell) and a carnival boy (John Todd) is breathtaking; it was like watching a ballet instead of a musical. However, in some of the ensemble numbers, the performers are blatantly out of sync in their movement, making the overall picture go from excellent to merely good.

Likewise, the costumes are gorgeous, but the hairpieces do not match the girls’ hair well, and are distractingly bad.

Despite a few things that could have been done to make it better, Reprise’s production of “Carousel” entertained the audience and did receive a standing ovation. Student rush tickets are available for $25. Even though it is not perfect, “Carousel” is still an emotional ride worth taking.

““ Kristin Aoun

E-mail Aoun at [email protected]

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