Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Carnival"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2004 by Tony Annicone

"Carnival"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Players first show of their 96th season is the musical comedy "Carnival". The show is about a carnival troupe called The Grande Imperail Cirque de Paris. They have fallen on hard times and need a new act to perk things up. Into its midst comes Lili, a young orphan girl who is soon caught in a triangle with the magician and the shy puppeteer. The most wonderful part of the show is the relationship that grows between the young girl and the four puppets. The old saying is never peerform with children or animals because they will steal the show from you. In this case, it is the four live people portraying the puppets that steal the show from the other performers, proving the main theme of the show in the song "Love Makes the World Go Round" finally bringing the girl and the puppeteer together at last.

The show is directed by Jan Grant, musically directed by Joseph Carvalho and choreographed by Adam Crowe. Adam does double duty in this show by playing Carrot Top, one of the scene stealing puppets. He brings a warmth to his comic role and does an excellent job choreographing the dance numbers in the show including a tango and several group songs, too. The other three scene stealing performers who also handle the comic and poignant moments are Sue Bergeron as Horrible Henry who thinks he is a walrus but is really a seal, Carole Cooke as the jealous opera singer, Marguerite and Mark Schraer as Renardo who is a fox but is a wolf with the women. They bring this dark and brooding show to life with their antics, giving it the lightness a musical comedy should possess. Kerissa Roderick and Paul Oliver play Lili and Paul, the puppeteer, handling the ingenue and juvenille leads and selling their many songs to the crowd. Her character is young and innocent while he is lame from an accident in the war which has ruined his dancing career. Lili is pursued by the aged lothario, Marco played by Don Wilmeth who woos the women and leaves them. Her spirit of life wins him over at the close of the show.

Other scene stealing performers include Liz Messier as Rosalie who makes this larger than life carnival performer a laugh riot with her strong song delivery in the comic duet ''Humming" with CJ Landram, the loud, bossy ringmaster, Schlegel as well as in her pretty ballad in the second act called "Always, Always You". CJ is blustery and strong in this role, giving energy to scenes he is in while Bill Pett is strong as Paul's assistant, Jacquot who tries to mediate between Paul and Lili's arguments. Another bright moment is the hilarious entrance of Rosalie's "fiancee", Dr. Wilhelm Glass played wonderfully by Dennis Bouchard. The doctor is a vet who has small animals in his medical bag and in his pocket, leading the audience into gales of laughter. Produciton stage manager Kathy Riker and stage manager Iain Lawson keep things running smoothly in the 20 cast member show. The colorful costumes are designed by Whitney Cummer and the gorgeous carnival set is designed by Laura Mernoff. The puppet makeup by Cheryla was amazing and fit their characters perfectly. For tickets for this show or to become a member of this club call Lydia at 273-0590 or at ThePlayers1909@aol.com (Opening night the green room was dedicated to the memory of Joseph Riker Jr., a long time member of this club and a lovely and moving speech was delivered by his wife while 14 year old Evaline MacFarland played her harp beautifully.)

"Carnival" (15 - 24 October)
THE PLAYERS
Barker Playhouse, 400 Benefit Street, Providence, RI
1 (401) 273-0590

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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