WAAPA reimagines Carousel for a new generation

WAAPA Carousel - photo by Kathy WheatleyFollowing on from last years sensation 42nd Street, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) continues to present some of the greatest musicals in history. And this year is no exception as they bring the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel to the stage at the Regal Theatre this June.

Carousel tells the story of the tragic romance between a troubled carnival worker and the young woman who gives up everything for him. It boasts some of the most powerful music ever written for the stage, including If I Loved You, June is Bustin’ Out All Over and the immortal You’ll Never Walk Alone.

It was in 1999 that Time magazine bestowed the ‘Best Musical’ tag on Carousel, writing that Rodgers and Hammerstein “set the standards for the 20th century musical, and this show features their most beautiful score and the most skillful and affecting example of their musical storytelling.”

Sydney-based director Jason Langley is in Perth to bring the musical to the stage. “How often do you get the chance to work on a show that’s been labelled the best musical of the 20th century?” asks award-winning theatre director Jason Langley.

Langley (Dusty – The Musical, Loving Repeating) describes how he and visiting guest choreographer Cameron Mitchell (Big Fish, Calamity Jane) have chosen to update the setting from the traditional 1870s to 1969, in the hope that the show’s depiction of love “in all its messy dysfunction” will resonate with a contemporary audience.

“We’re working towards creating a Carousel for a new generation, one that’s a little darker, a little edgier and a little more relevant to our current social climate of #metoo,” explains Langley. “If you only know the film, then prepare yourself for a very different ride!”

Langley returns to WAAPA after directing its previous sold-out seasons of Legally Blonde in 2015 and last year’s high-octane 42nd Street, describes how he and Mitchell are enjoying working with the Academy’s current crop of triple threat performers in its biggest annual production.

“We’re loving the enthusiasm and talent of the WAAPA cast who are diving headfirst into reimagining this brutal love story,” he said. “We certainly have some world-class voices singing some of musical theatre’s most famous songs, so the audience is in for a real treat.”

Another highly credentialed professional bringing their wealth of experience to this production is multi-award-winning lighting designer Trudy Dalgleish. Having worked extensively across theatre, opera and live events, Dalgleish’s vast catalogue includes shows such as The Wizard of Oz, Hairspray, Georgy Girl – The Seekers Musical, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and The Bodyguard.

She is joined on the creative team by set designer Tyler Hill – a 2015 WAAPA graduate who is currently Resident Artist with Black Swan State Theatre Company. The design vision of these two professional artists is ably supported by a talented group of Costume, Design and Props & Scenery students who will make the costumes and sets a reality, while a small army of Sound, Lighting and Stage Management students will ensure the technical aspects of the show run smoothly.

The 17-piece orchestra for Carousel is made up of WAAPA’s finest classical, jazz and contemporary student musicians under the musical direction of Head of Music Theatre, David King. Featuring WAAPA’s second and final Year Musical Theatre students, with up to 40 performers on stage, don’t miss this deeply touching story of passion, loss and redemption that will capture your heart.

Director: Jason Langley Featuring: 2nd and 3rd Year Music Theatre Students and WAAPA Music Students Music Director: David King Choreographer: Cameron Mitchell Lighting Designer: Trudy Dalgleish Set Designer: Tyler Hill Costume Designer: Eilish Campbell

Regal Theatre, 474 Hay Street, Subiaco
Season: 16 – 23 June 2018
Bookings: www.ticketek.com.au

For more information, visit: www.waapa.ecu.edu.au for details.

Image: Jason Langley (centre) with WAAPA Cast Members of Carousel – photo by Kathy Wheatley

Words: WAAPA / Craig Dalglish