A magical merry-go-round figures prominently in the classic musical swirling with fancifulness and passion at Summer Theatre of New Canaan, outdoors under a tent in Waveny Park, until Sunday, August 7. Richard Rodgers who wrote it with Oscar Hammerstein II called “Carousel” his favorite musical, set as it is on the rocky coast of Maine in 1873.
Carousel barker Billy Bigelow gives his heart away, as well as the brass ring, to sweet, pretty and idealistic Julie Jordan who comes to the carnival ride with her best friend Carrie. Billy and Julie’s instant romance brings to mind another pair of star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. Because Billy’s boss Mrs. Mullin (Emilie Roberts) is jealous of Billy’s straying affections, she fires him and Julie, a mill worker, also loses her job when she misses her curfew.
Christian Cardozo’s Billy is brash and quick to anger, never really treasuring the fragile beauty he has found in Jazmin Gorsline’s loyal and lovely Julie. Unemployed, he panics when Julie announces she is pregnant and falls into a scheme with his disreputable pal Jigger (Adam Bashian) that leads to a trail of trouble and tears.
In contrast, Julie’s best friend Carrie, a delightful Lauren Lukacek, fares much better in her choice of a mate, the eminently respectable fisherman Enoch Snow (William Hartery) and they go on to produce a storm of “snowflakes” to admire.
Julie’s fate and that of her daughter Louise (Sandra Ross) are much more unpredictable, even with the help of town folks Nettie Fowler (Joan Mitchell Carlo), Dr. Seldon (Brian Silliman) and Mr Bascombe (Lou Orsone). Glorious music like “If I Loved You,” “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over,” “What’s the Use of Wond’rin?” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” are memorable. Allegra Libonati directs a fine ensemble cast in this “heavenly” production.
For tickets ($25 - 45), call STONC at 203-966-4634 or online at www.stonc.org. Waveny Park is off exit 37, Merritt Parkway. Free parking is just past the park on Farm Road, at the New Canaan High School. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m.
“Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” plays weekends from July 23-August 6, for young audiences, Saturday at 10 a.m. and Sunday at noon.
Allow the magnificent singing and dancing to help Billy examine his soul and find his way to salvation and ultimate redemption.