Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Carousel"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2011 by Larry Stark


"Carousel"

Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Music by Richard Rodgers
Directed & Choreographed by Joe DeMita
Music Direction by Stephen Schapero

Dance Consultants Stephanie Schapero, Kira Cowan
Set Design by Joe DeMita
Costume Design by Tina Cerosimo, Emily Monroe
Lighting Design by PJ Strachman
Light Crew Richie DeJesus
Properties Design by Emily Monroe
Set Construction Crew Joe DeMita, Alan Kivnik, Christian Masters, Henry Beckvold
Assistant Stage Managers Emily Monroe, Shawna O'Brien
Production Stage Manager Tina Cerosimo

ORCHESTRA
Keyboard..........................Stephen Schapero
Horn..................................Sue Antolini
Trumpet.................................Dan Teager
Reeds................................Terry Anthony
Violin...........................Stanley Silverman
Cello...............................Priscilla Chew

Billy Bigelow..........................Dave Carney
Julie Jordan....................Stephanie Schapero
Carrie Pipperidge..............Holly Annn Marshall
Enoch Snow.................................TJ Rufo
Nettie Fowler............Patricia Peterson Jamison
Jigger Craigin/Carnival Boy......Christian Masters
Mrs. Mullin..........................Sharon Kivnik
Mr. Bascomb/Dr. Seldon/Starkeeper.........Mike Fay
Louise...............................Kimberly Fife
Heavenly Friend..................AnneMarie Alvarez
ENSEMBLE
AnneMarie Alvarez, Katie Beckvold, Melody Chapin, Richie DeJesus, Mike Fay, Kimberly Fife, Sharon Kivnik, Christian Masters, Marc Michael Murai, Ethan Selby

Small is beautiful --- and for years now Joe DeMita, Artistic Director of the F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company has been playing the tiny Black Box space at the New Repertory Theatre like a Stradivarius. The company has specialized in new, little-known vest-pocket musicals --- "Bare"; "Nevermore"; "Glory Days" --- done with careful attention to detail. Now, for their tenth anniversary, the company has dusted off a classic, making the Hammerstein-Rodgers "Carousel" into a wholly new, achingly poigniant experience.

First, they built a second floor over the stage on which Stephen Schapero's six-piece acoustic band can sit. Since the front of this floor is held up by a row of thin steel pillars, hanging a string of lights over it simulates a merry-go-round pavilion. And during the lengthy overture, all fifteen cast-members weave in and around those upright rods --- voila! --- simulating a carousel without the cost of a dozen bobbing wooden horses.

The playing area in front becomes a dancing-floor, and Director Joe DeMita has filled it with beautiful choreography --- a preamble that tells the entire plot in mime and movement; lovely DeMille-like lifts and expressive masses; a stage-filling explosion of spring when June comes bustin' out all over; an all-male hornpipe often cut in other productions; and a breathtaking character-ballet by Kimberly Fife and Christian Masters in Act Two.

The ensemble slides effortlessly back again and again into the action in new costumes and roles, even named-character players swelling the chorus, populating a turn-of-century Maine fishing village with fresh, lively people. (Christian Masters, for instance, in Act One is a scheming seaman with a knife; Mike Fay turns up as all three elders, Patricia Peterson Jamison and Sharon Kivnik are mature ladies, and among others AnnMarie Alvarez and Kimberly Fife turn into pretty young girls when not taking center-stage.)

But there is a story here --- an Oscar Hammerstein II story of hesitant, inarticulate love refusing to succumb to society's cruelties. Billy Bigelow can only bark for a carousel and Julie Jordan has vowed never to marry, and they can't settle as Carrie Pipperidge and Enoch Snow do into married success. But despite their tragedy, perhaps their independent daughter Louise will find her way to a stage career. Oscar never flinched at tragedy, but he never gave up hoping, either.

Other reviewers can call the role of fifteen delightful performers in this lovingly shaped recreation of an American classic. Making it smaller, F.U.D.G.E. makes it sing!

Love,
===Larry Stark

"Carousel"
F.U.D.G.E. THEATRE COMPANY
29 July - 6 August
@ Black Box Theatre, Arsenal Center for The Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, WATERTOWN MA
1(781)254-0500
18 - 21 August
@NEXT DOOR CENTER FOR THE ARTS, 40 Cross Street, WINCHESTER MA
1(781)729-NEXT

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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