Portsmouth Community Theatre's current show is Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Carousel". Based on Fernec Molnar's play "Liliom", "Carousel" takes place between 1873 and 1888 in a small new England fishing village in Maine. The tale revolves around Billy Bigelow, a carnival man, and Julie Jordan, a local factory worker. They end up getting married and after learning he is to become a father, Billy kills himself after a botched robbery. Several years later he is allowed to return to earth for a short time to redeem himself and help his daughter and Julie recover from the stigma of his death. The original Broadway show opened on April 19. 1945 and ran for 890 performances, winning 8 Donaldson Awards and the Drama Critics Circle Award for "Best Musical" of 1945. The 1994 revival won 5 Tony Awards and in 1999, TIME MAGAZINE voted "Carousel" the best musical of the century. The 1956 movie version starred Gordon McRae and Shirley Jones as Billy and Julie. Director Cindy Killavey casts the show beautifully.
Cindy's blocking of the show is topnotch, too especially the pantomime opening segment done to the Carousel Waltz. The scene lets you know what's happening with absolutely no dialogue. Missy Cupp did the musical direction and Flo Oliveira as the accompanist. Leading this cast is Kevin Killavey as Billy and is terrific in this huge role. He captures the essence of this character, capturing the swagger and charm of a womanizing man with a wanderlust in his soul who finally reforms to help his wife and daughter have hope to live their lives to their fullest during his return to earth after his death. Kevin shows off his strong singing voice in "If I Loved You" (my favorite R&H song) and "The Soliloquy". The first is where Billy and Julie refuse to admit their love for each other and the second one is his outlook on his future son or daughter. The latter one stops the show with its intensity. Also powerful is the reprise of "If I Loved You" where Billy admits that he loved Julie all the time which elicits many tears from the audience and his finally admitting he loved Julie during the closing number. Kevin delivers a gut wrenching performance. Gorgeous blonde Kate Davis is wonderful as Julie, her splendid soprano voice fills the theatre with "If I Loved You" and "What's the Use of Wondering" where she says it doesn't matter whether your man is good or bad that you will love him anyway. She admits her love for Billy during his death scene and starts to sing "Never Walk Alone" until she breaks down in tears. Marvelous job by the two leading players.
Kristen Bond does a topnotch job as Nettie. She bursts on the scene, to welcome summer to Maine with the exuberant "June Is Busting Out" with her topnotch soprano voice and does a comic turn in "A Real Nice Clambake" where she tells about all the food everyone consumed at the picnic. Krisiten also tugs at your heartstrings with "You'll Never Walk Alone" where she comforts Julie after Billy's death. Shannon Davis does a great job as Carrie, Julie's not too bright friend who loves a stuffed shirt herring fisherman, Enoch Snow played to the hilt by Ron Marsh. Shannon gets to sing "Mister Snow" about her intended and then sings the duet with Ron, "When the Children Are Asleep". She has a lovely soprano voice while Ron has a strong tenor voice. Ron sings the mournful "Geraniums in the Window" when he thinks Carrie has cheated on him with Jigger. They get to lighten up the show with their comic antics as does Myles Winter as Mrs. Mullen. She is the owner of the Carnival who lusts after Billy and argues with Julie, Carrie, Billy and Jigger, shooting off insults at a quick pace. The villain of the show Jigger is played by John Peixinho. He oozes his oily, slick charm when he convinces Billy to commit the robbery, tries to kiss Carrie and then cheats Billy at cards. John leads the men in "Blow High, Blow Low" and "Stonecutters Cut it on Stone". Billy and Julie's daughter Louise is well played by Veronica Kelly. So for a wonderful evening of a Rodgers and Hammerstein show, be sure to catch "Carousel" in Portsmouth. It still packs a powerful punch.