RISE & SHINE BROADWAY FANS! We are just 30 DAYS AWAY till the 73rd Annual Tony Awards. We at New York Broadway Tours are pleased once again to continue getting everyone hyped as we continue our TOP 40 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN. Are you ready for another great big Broadway number?
At # 30 on our countdown, we take you to a New England fishing village in 1873. This is a tale of crime, brutality, poverty, romance, and disappointment where a barker falls in love with the local mill worker, both loose their jobs, and attempts a life in robbery to support her and their unborn child. You may think of it as the Les Misérables of the 1940s. This is the haunting story of…. Carousel on Broadwayl. The musical features an iconic score and book by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, II. It’s a retelling of Ferenc Molnar’s 1909 Hungarian play, LILLIOM.
From last year’s telecast, Tony Award nominee Joshua Henry as “Billy Bigelow” and the Ensemble men of the most recent Broadway revival are singing a song of life at sea in the toe tapper BLOW HIGH, BLOW LOW.
CAROUSEL was first conceived in 1943 following the success of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s first big Broadway hit Oklahoma! Theresa Helburn and Lawrence Langner (producers of the Theater Guild) envisioned having the composing duo write a musical based on the play LILLIOM. Opera composer Verdi originally almost adapted that play as an opera prior, but failed to do it. However for Rodgers & Hammerstein, they flatly refused and thought it looked way too depressing. However, they said they would do it but changed things around in the story, including the setting (where they got the idea from Rodgers’ home in Connecticut, which was a fishing area). They renamed it CAROUSEL after being inspired by the opening scene of LILLIOM set at a Carnival. They continued to work on the show for the next two years.
John Raitt (later Henry Michel) as “Billy Bigelow,”
Jan Clayton (later Iva Withers) as “Julie Jordan,”
Christine Johnson as “Cousin Nettie,”
Eric Mattson as “Enoch Snow”,
Jean Darling (later Margot Moser) as “Carrie Pipperidge”,
Russell Collins as “The Starkeeper”,
The original production did not get any Tony Award nominations or wins. The Tony Awards were actually created that very next year of 1946.
Following the original Broadway run, the show went on tour for 2 years wrapping up in the Big Apple playing New York City Center in 1949 for 36 performances and then transferred back to its original home of the Majestic Theatre running for only 32 performances. It hoped to fill the seats of the Majestic Theatre (still Rodgers & Hammerstein brought in South Pacific) but the sales were mediocre. Following Broadway, the show went to London’s West End. Once again with Rouben Mamoulian direction and Agnes deMille’s choreography, the Touring, short lived Broadway, and London cast featured…
Stephen Douglass as “Billy Bigelow,”
Iva Withers as “Julie Jordan”,
Christine Johnson as “Cousin Nettie”,
Eric Mattson as “Enoch Snow”,
Margot Moser as “Carrie Pipperidge”,
Calvin Thomas as “The Starkeeper”,
The 2nd revival returned to New York City Center in 1954. It ran for 79 performances. Produced by the New York City Center Light Opera Company under the direction of William Hammerstein and re-staging by Robert Paegant, this cast consisted of…
Chris Robinson as “Billy Bigelow,”
Jo Sullivan as “Julie Jordan”,
Jean Handzlik as “Cousin Nettie”,
Don Blackey as “Enoch Snow”,
the late Barbara Cook as “Carrie Pipperidge”,
Daniel Reed as “The Starkeeper”,
The 3rd revival again returned to New York City Center in 1957 (again produced by New York City Center Light Opera Company) running for 24 performances. Following this engagement, the show was taken Belgium to be performed at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. Under the direction of John Fearnley and choreography once again by Robert Pageant, this cast consisted of…
Howard Keel as “Billy Bigelow,”
Barbara Cook graduating to the role of “Julie Jordan”,
Marie Powers as “Cousin Nettie”,
Russell Nype as “Enoch Snow”,
Pat Stanley as “Carrie Pipperidge”,
Victor Moore as “The Starkeeper”,
When the show went to Belgium, Jan Clayton reprised her role of “Julie Jordan. The 1949, 1954, and 1957 City Center engagements did not get any Tony nominations or wins.
In 1993 CAROUSEL (as seen in this video) played returned to Broadway. This time it played the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center Theater with a spectacular new production playing 322 performances. For this production, it was a transfer of the 1992 production that played London's National Theatre. Under the direction of Nicholas Hytner and choreography by Sir Kenneth, the cast featured….
Michael Hayden as “Billy Bigelow,”
Sally Murphy as “Julie Jordan”,
Shirley Verrett as “Cousin Nettie”,
Eddie Korbich as “Enoch Snow”,
Audra McDonald as “Carrie Pipperidge.”
Jeff Weiss as “The Starkeeper”,
FUN FACT: The Ensemble also featured an unknown Taye Diggs. He would later work with Audra McDonald on the TV show Private Practice.
The Lincoln Center Theatre revival was nominated and won all 5 categories of its 1994 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical. In addition, Audra McDonald won her first-ever Tony as Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
Last year, CAROUSEL returned to Broadway with a breathtaking new production It played Broadway’s Imperial Theatre for 228 performances. Under the direction of Tony-winner Jack O'Brien and choreography by New York City Ballet’s Justin Peck, this cast consists of…
Tony-winner Jessie Mueller as”Julie Jordan,”
Tony-nominee Joshua Henry as “Billy Bigelow",
Grammy winner and Tony nominee Renée Fleming as “Cousin Nettie”,
Tony nominee Alexander Gemignanii as “Enoch Show”,
Tony winner Lindsay Mendez as “Carrie Pipperidge”,
Tony winner John Douglas Thompson as “The Starkeeper”,
The production was nominated for 11 Tony Awards last year winning 2 for Best Featured Actress in a Musical (for Lindsay Mendez) and Best Choreography (for Justin Peck).
Along with its success on stage, CAROUSEL was also an acclaimed film. The original film was released in 1956 from 20th Century Fox. Under the direction of Henry King and the iconic Agnes de Mille choreography, the cast starred…
Gordon MacRae as “Billy Bigelow,”
Shirley Jones Ingels as “Julie Jordan”,
Claramae Turner as “Cousin Nettie,”
Robert Rounseville as “Enoch Snow”,
Barbara Ruick as “Carrie Pipperidge.”
Gene Lockhart as “The Starkeeper”,
FUN FACT: MaeRae and Jones previously starred together in the acclaimed film version of Oklahoma! in 1955.
Most recently back in 20113, the New York Philharmonic presented a semi-staged concert production at Lincoln Center for 3 nights only. Under the direction of Tony winner John Rando, it was filmed for PBS Award winning Great Performances l PBS and a cast featuring…
Nathan Gunn as “Billy Bigelow”,
Tony winner (and nominee again this year) Kelli O'Hara as “Julie Jordan”,
Stephanie Blythe as “Cousin Nettie,”
Jason Danieley as “Enoch Snow”,
Tony winner Jessie Mueller as “Carrie Pipperidge”,
John Cullum as “The Starkeeper”,
CAROUSEL is still a show performed in schools, community, and Regional Theatres everywhere.
Who gets chills from this haunting score?