Carousel landed firmly on my radar when I learned that Jessie Mueller and Renee Fleming were headlining the show. This is the third time the theater group has gathered to see the always enchanting Jessie Mueller. We saw her first in Beautiful in February of 2015 and again in Waitress in April 2016 where she handily debuted both roles. Once Ms. Mueller was coupled with the serious singing chops of opera phenom Renee Fleming, I knew the show was a safe bet. As more and more people turn up for these group outings, I am ever more keen to select a safe bet being cognizant of people’s time and funds. While these outsize talents did not disappoint, it is the dancing and the lighting that are my two reasons for highly recommending this show.
The importance of dance in this show was foreshadowed in a mostly complimentary review in the NY Times about the choreographer Justin Peck. I am thankful to have gotten the heads up so as to be more keenly aware to observe what was unfolding on stage. Dancers are used throughout the show as expected in the big old song and dance numbers, but also more subtly and breathtakingly as part of the set. For instance, the dancers open the show as the symbolic horses and riders of the Carousel. My most favorite part was when they morphed together as the backdoor entrance to the gates of heaven.
Consider me now fare-thee-well obsessed with Justin Peck who at 30 years old (what!???) is making his Broadway debut. Genius move by the producers to hire this wonder of a choreographer and have him work his ballet magic into this classic Americana Broadway production. I definitely will be turning on Netflix this evening to view the documentary film Ballet 422 which follows the choreographer for three months as he creates an original piece for the NYC Ballet.
Must also give a very loud and boisterous shout out to the lighting team for this show. Shame on me, but I have never really considered the importance of lighting in a show. Clearly the producers did as they hired 5 time!! Tony winner Brian MacDevitt as the Lighting Designer. The light shimmered and shined and dimmed and darkened and pulsated as a life force all on it’s very own. It was something to see and something that needs to be seen.
This show was a mix of the best of Broadway and the best of Lincoln Center. There were 50 plus people in our group last night for the show and while I obviously didn’t get a download from every person who was there, I think on the whole we left as a very satisfied group. Perhaps for very different reasons than we expected. How funny to walk in with certain expectations and walk out with a fresh new perspective. The key is to walk in!
Side note: This show has a VERY strict ON TIME arrival rule. This was foreshadowed by the ticket guy at the will call window. He sternly advised I get there 10 minutes before the show as if he had divined that I was a cut it close arrival person (he divined correctly). One friend got there at 7:05 and was not permitted across the threshold until intermission. They gave her a headset and she watched Act 1 via a livestream of the performance on a TV. So if you grab your group and go to Carousel – get there ON TIME!! You’ve been warned.