WHAT’S HAPPENING, BROADWAY FANS?! We are only 25 days away until Broadway’s biggest night of the year, the 71st annual Tony Awards. To get ourselves hyped and entertained, we are waking you up each morning with our TOP 30 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN playing you the best of Broadway showstopping performances from the past telecasts.
At #25 today, we take you to a New England fishing village in 1873, featuring a tale of crime, brutality, poverty, and romance. You can consider this musical as the pre-Les Misérables of the 40s). This is Rodgers & Hammerstein‘s legendary musical CAROUSEL. It’s based on the 1909 Hungarian play, LILLIOM.
From the 1994 telecast, the late Shirley Verrett as “Nettie” along with Michael Hayden as “Billy Bigelow,” Sally Murphy as “Julie Jordan,” and the cast from that year’s most recent Lincoln Center Theater revival perform the tragic death scene featuring the show’s most iconic song, “YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE.”
CAROUSEL first came about in 1943 following the success of Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II’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 sad. 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.
The show officially opened in 1945 at the Majestic Theatre running for 840 performances. The original production starred John Raitt as “Billy Bigelow,” Jan Clayton as “Julie Jordan,” Christine Johnson as “Nettie,” and Jean Darling as “Carrie Pipperidge.” The show did not get any Tony Award nominations or wins because they were not created until that very next year. Following its Broadway run, the show went on to wow the world.
The most recent revival of the show played Broadway’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center in 1994, playing 322 performances. This production was a transfer for the acclaimed 1992 West End production that played the National Theatre in London. It starred (as mentioned) Michael Hayden, Sally Murphy, the late Shirley Verrett, and also Audra McDonald (in her Broadway debut) as “Carrie Pipperidge.” In addition, Taye Diggs appeared in the Ensemble. (McDonald and Diggs later went to star opposite each other on Private Practice). It was nominated and won all 5 categories of its Tonys that year, including Best Revival of a Musical. Plus, Audra McDonald won her first-ever Tony as Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
Most recently, it has been announced that CAROUSEL will officially be coming back to Broadway next season with an all-new production directed by Tony-winner Jack O’Brien and choreography by Justin Peck. The cast is set to feature Tony-winner Jessie Mueller (who previously played “Carrie Pipperidge” in the 2013 New York Philharmonic concert production) taking on the leading role of “Julie Jordan,” Tony-nominee Joshua Henry making history as the first African-American Actor ever to play “Billy Bigelow,” and The Metropolitan Opera‘s legendary soprano Renée Fleming as “Nettie.”
CAROUSEL also was an acclaimed film that came out in 1956 that starred Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones (after previously starring in the film version of OKLAHOMA) as “Billy Bigelow” and “Julie Jordan,” along with Claramae Turner as “Nettie,” and Barbara Ruick as “Carrie Pipperidge.”
Who gets chills and tears from this entire score?
Perteneciente a los Premios Tony 1994