Carousel ★★★★ Regent's Park Open Air Theatre | Jul 31 - Sep 25, 2021


Carousel is one of the very greatest pieces of musical theatre. Every song is in a minor key and is subtly instilled with a sense of yearning and of the tragedy to come. The whole show stands or falls on the casting of Julie and Billy, and here we are lucky to have the totally believable Carly Bawden and Declan Bennett acting and singing superbly. Bennett's seven minute "Soliloquy" is pitched perfectly as the young wildcat is tamed by the realisation that he is to become a father – something he is ill-prepared for. Bawden brings a sense of foreboding before truly tugging at the heartstrings as she loses her husband. Joanna Riding, herself an award-winning Julie, is tremendous as cousin Nettie – feisty and fun before stunning us with a moving rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone." The huge company was beautifully disposed over Tom Scutt's steeply raked set, creating many wonderfully striking pictures. Drew McOnie's witty choreography uses the constantly spinning revolve extremely well. There are so many things which director Timothy Sheader gets right that it almost feels ungrateful to say that we really didn't like the revised final section of the show. We felt that revisiting an interpretation of the 'heavenly' scenes which had been rejected before the Broadway opening was unhelpful and confusing; Rodgers and Hammerstein were masters of their art and could have been trusted with their final version. However, whilst the superb cast held hands and the stage revolved there were tears in many eyes.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Johan-Persson.

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