This 2018 group of Musical Theatre students from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts present a heartfelt production that at some point in the production will speak and touch every member of the audience. With so many issues covered in Carousel it would be hard to watch this production and not be moved.
Director Jason Langley moves the setting of the musical from World War II to the Vietnam War enabling it to successfully speak to an audience in 2018. Carousel explores the change to society as guilt ridden servicemen return from war to find their place in society and the emotional and physical effects that loved ones must endure.
As Langley describes in the director’s notes, “I’ve never quite understood the watered down, pastel, pretty world in which Carousel is sometimes positioned.” Langley and his cast manage to present an emotionally, melancholic looking production that somehow manages to end with courage and optimism.
All the lead characters give standout performances. Andrew Coshan as the barker, Billy Bigelow, gives a sincere performance and manages to reach an emotional crescendo in Soliloquy with his powerful and compelling voice. Amy Fortnum as Julie Jordan has an innocence and love for Billy that is evident in her performance. She possesses a powerful, emotional voice that reflects the naivety and yet strong will of her character.
Stacey Thomsett as Mrs Mullins, the owner of the carousel, has a commanding presence on stage while Elise Muley as Nettie Fowler delivers a formidable rendition of the classic You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Jessica Clancy as Carrie Pipperidge and Kurt Russo as Enoch Snow provide the comical relief in an emotionally charged show. Their rendition of When the Children are Asleep was entertaining, while the faces pulled by Pipperidge during various scenes added to the laughable moments.
Choreography by Cameron Mitchell, is tight, slick and at times raunchy. Dance sequence highlights include the production assembly line and the end ballet sequence performed by Jarrod Draper and Alexandra Cornish.
The set designed by Tyler Hill is simple, effective and manages to reflect the emotion of the show. The heaven scene was impressive and not overstated. Instead of filling the stage with smoke, a small amount was used while light bulbs descended from the set.
Costuming by Eilish Campbell was true to the era of the sixties and manages to add to the comedy between Clancy and Russo, as Enoch appears on stage in a rather high cut pair of pastel shorts. Cast members dressed in britches, waltzing around as the horses on a carousel, was also a visual highlight in the production.
Given the themes in the show and constant strong sex scenes, this production is definitely for mature audiences. I was a little surprised to witness such confronting sex scenes given the recent media attention within the industry. I’m not sure why it was necessary to simulate the unbuttoning of trousers by the male cast members.
I must admit I knew a lot of the tunes from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, but had no idea of the narrative accompanying these great melodies. I thought it was a romantic love story between a carnival worker and his teenage sweetheart bride.
As I was to discover, Carousel is no romantic love story but rather a dark musical that covers some deep social justice issues of relationships and fitting in. It’s a shame that some 73 years on, the same issues addressed in the production are still relevant today. This years production of Carousel is visually and emotionally stunning, and not to be missed. Book your tickets now!
Regal Theatre, 474 Hay Street, Subiaco
Performance: Saturday 16 June 2018
Season continues to 23 June 2018
For more information, visit: www.waapa.ecu.edu.au for details.
Image: WAAPA presents Carousel – photo by Jon Green
Review: Craig Dalglish
Note: “The company and I would like to leave you with this. Although we are depicting acts of violence on stage, we understand that violence of any kind is never acceptable. You can find information and help at 1800respect.org.au if you, or someone you know is experiencing some form of domestic violence.” – Jason Langley (Director)