Wagner College Theatre’s next Main Stage production is “Carousel,” the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical masterpiece of love and redemption. The show opens on Wednesday, April 23 and runs through Sunday, May 4. It is directed by Drew Scott Harris with choreography by WCT alumnus Bret Shuford ’01 and musical direction by Lauri Young.
Based on the play, “Liliom,” by Ferenc Molnar, “Carousel” boasts music by Richard Rodgers and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. “Carousel” has been called “the best musical of the 20th century” by Time magazine and is considered the first musical to combine dialogue and music (such as, “If I Loved You”) seamlessly into one powerful dramatic scene.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel” brings us to the New England seaside, where a ride on the carousel changes Julie Jordan’s life forever. There she meets Billy Bigelow, a swaggering carnival barker. Their passionate, ill-fated love affair — set against a backdrop of such glorious songs as “If I Loved You,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “June is Bustin’ Out All Over” — is the heart of this masterwork, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s personal favorite.
“Carousel” features theater majors Joshua Sottile (Billy Bigelow), Lisa Peterson (Julie Jordan), Sarah Shear (Carrie Pipperidge), Thomas Horvath (Enoch Snow), Tom DeMichele (Jigger), Megan Viglione (Nettie Fowler), Paige McNamara (Mrs. Mullin), Joe O’Malley (The Starkeeper) and Adena Ershow (Louise).
The ensemble includes Christian Alvarez, Tom Althoff, Tyler Angotto, Nicholas Barakos, Jeanine Bruen, Brad Cashman, Phil Della Noce, Lindsay Dunn, Sam Forin, Arielle Gordon, Greg Ippolito, Julia Karis, Dan Kriss, Chelsea Loesel, Kristi Long, Daniel Marconi, Alexis Marquardt, Alec Reiss, Samantha Rose, Maria Elena Rumayor, Clint Thompson, Bianca Vitale and Lauren Wagner.
The production design team is comprised of Phill Hickox (sets), Polly Kendrick (costumes), Vicki Neal (lights) and Rich Kroth (sound). Alison Savino is production stage manager.
Wagner College Theatre first presented “Carousel” in April 1996 with a cast that featured Deren Gilly, Sarah Farnam, Matthew Ryan, Amy Wodon, Robyn Ruehl, Kathy Brier, Brian Sgambati and Danielle Huben, under the direction of Christopher Catt.
After long and distinguished careers with other collaborators, Richard Rodgers (composer, 1902-1979) and Oscar Hammerstein II (librettist/lyricist, 1895-1960) joined forces in 1943 to create the most successful partnership in the American musical theater. “Oklahoma!,” the first Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, was also the first of a new genre, the musical play, blending Rodgers’ sophisticated style of musical comedy with Hammerstein’s innovations in operetta. “Oklahoma!” was followed by “Carousel” in 1945, then “Allegro,” “South Pacific,” “The King and I,” “Me and Juliet,” “Pipe Dream,” “Flower Drum Song” and “The Sound of Music.” Rodgers & Hammerstein wrote one musical specifically for the big screen, “State Fair,” and one for television, “Cinderella.”
The original production of “Carousel” opened at Broadway’s Majestic Theatre on April 19, 1945, starring John Raitt and Jan Clayton. After running nearly 900 performances in New York, the show closed in 1947. It would continue to have a healthy life, however, in four revivals, including a much-celebrated 1994 production that garnered five Tony Awards and launched the career of Audra McDonald as a major Broadway star. The musical was adapted for the screen in 1956 starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones. Robert Goulet starred in a 1967 television production.
The Wagner College Theatre production of “Carousel” runs from Wednesday, April 23 through Saturday, April 26, and from Wednesday, April 30 through Sunday, May 4. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
The Wagner College Theatre box office can be phoned at (718) 390-3259 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Box office hours are Monday through Friday, 12 to 4 p.m. Single tickets are on sale now for “Carousel,” with a variety of price ranges for children, seniors and adults. Wagner College students attend free with current ID.