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Wednesday, February 20, 2013 Take a Ride on the CAROUSEL

Does this picture bring up memories of the good ol' days? - - The carefree days of childhood when all you really wanted was to jump on the saddle of one plastic, pretty horse and ride on it round n' round in endless circles?...If you're a guy, you're probably all like "This girl is crazy...," but come on, every girl knows what I'm talking about, right? Sure, maybe that's still me today (let's get real...) - - > but the point is that the Carousel is a symbol of happiness, joy, and fun, right?. 

Put it into a play, and well, a different story arises. Love and loss.  Liberty University's Theatre Department/Tower Theater began its 2013 season with Rodgers and Hammerstein's second compiled musical called CAROUSEL. Their first musical, OKLAHOMA, was produced by the Liberty team back in latter half of 2011 and still stands as my favorite (ever) performance by these theater students. But back to the magic...

This Carousel journey is full of singing, love stories, and ballet dancing...lots of dancing (approximately 15 minutes of it!) Whoever said that doing theater was easy never did the 'LU Theater 30 day shred' - hard core stage dancing every day! Ha!, no, that doesn't exist, but I'm sure these kids don't darken the doors of a gym with all the jump and kicking involved in one production alone. It's exhausting, I'm sure.

Essentially we have two characters in this 1870s set production: Billy Bigelow, a carousel barker and Julie Jordan, a mill worker in love with the carousel. They inadvisably fall in love, lose their jobs, get married, and end up unhappy (surprise, surprise). They find enough reason to stay together, despite the domestic abuse instance and his consistent presence away from home. Fast forward a few months and it's clambake time in the New England area (Yay seafood!) The festivities are running high as whalers and sailors pack-in for some grub. The people get done eating and appear like every American who participates in a Thanksgiving day feast - full and content (Oh yes, we all know the feeling). This scene contains a cute song called "This Was a Real Nice Clambake," and all I can think is "Where is mine?!" - -> Guess I shouldn't go to the theater hungry...

"June is bustin' out all over!"

As the play continues...That same night, Barry and his unfit friend, Jigger, are planning a murder of Julie's former boss, a rich man. Billy tries to fight the pressure, but after finding out his wife is pregnant, the stakes become too high for him and his need for money supersedes his judgment.  Long story short, the murder was foiled, Jigger escapes, Billy is almost caught by the cops but kills himself instead. Tragic...  But not over. In this heavenly realm that Billy ascends to, the system is weighted by good and evil done on the earth. The "Star keeper" informs Billy that he didn't do enough good to get in through the pearly gates so -  for all purposes of a happy ending - he gets another chance. 24 hours back home. The twist came when 15 years had passed since his death, and his daughter, Louise was an outcast due to Billy's lasting reputation.

Julie grieves the loss of her husband, Billy, after his tragic death


Camryn Stahlman-Dwyer as Louise Bigelow, beautiful and free-spirited

Photos by: Liberty University Theatre Department/David Steele

<3 The ending scene is pretty beautiful. <3 It's Louise's graduation. Daddy Bigelow shows up but remains unseen. The students start singing a school-room classic called "You'll Never Walk Alone," and Billy speaks to Louise, begging her to believe the words of the song. She does! She smiles... and finds a lasting place in her little world. Happy ending... yada yada. 

So, despite our expectations of carousels being the icon for care-free childhood memories, this one was the starting point of a journey to love, heartache, death, and restoration. A hallmark of a family's destiny. Now, every time I look at a carousel (anywhere..everywhere..if they even exist anymore...), I'll think about clam bakes, heartaches, and lots and lots of ballet dancing...whew! 


Posted at 3:31 PM | Comments (0)