Rockwall Summer Musicals
Music Directors—Cody Dry and Chris Widomski
Scenic Designer—Gayle Sackett
Lighting Designer—Marie Bull
Costume Designer –Dallas Costumes, Harris Costumes Fort Worth
Wardrobe Mistress—Wiloni Darrington
CAST (at reviewed performance)
Carrie Pipperidge—Lucy Shea
Julie Jordan—Molly Pope
Mrs. Mullin—Brittany Murphy
Billy Bigelow—Clayton Sackett
David Bascombe—Bob Lewis
Nettie Fowler—Deanna Tipton
Enoch Snow—Justin Foley
Jigger Craigin—John C. Hogwood
Heavenly Friend—Kurtis Williams
Starkeeper/Dr. Seldon—Jerry McCulley
Carnival Boy (Ballet)—Robert Boraski
Enoch Snow Jr.—Trace Killian
Snow Children—Abby Foley, Lane Ward, Alayna White, Zoe Murphy, Chissy Benson, Kayla Rambo
Ensemble Singers — Mary Nichols, Cecelia Rogers, Krysteena Segovis, Mandy Williams, Raegan Vaughan, Melissa Feldman, Noah AuBuchon, Rodney Jaynes, Luke Riggs, Tim Gilliand, Ian Perkins
Ensemble Dancers — Mary Matthews, Chloe Poston, Tory St. John Gilbert, Kellie Sanchez, Victoria Steele, Anastasia Murphy, Rodney Morris, Micheal Christian, Jordan Erebia, Liam Taylor, Jacob Thomas
Crew — Elizabeth Smith, Maddie Hostetler, Olivia Thirion, Sloan Johnson
Reviewed Performance 6/26/2016
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Based on the 1909 Ferenc Molnar play, “Liliom,” Carousel was the second musical collaboration of the songwriting team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Set in the 1870’s on the Maine coastline, Carousel revolves around carousel barker, Billy Bigelow, whose romance with millworker Julie Jordan comes at the price of both of their jobs. Bigelow attempts a robbery to provide for Julie and their unborn child; after it goes wrong, he is given a chance to make things right.
Carousel has always been one of my favorite Rodgers and Hammerstein productions. I think that the image of the carousel carries great meaning. Although only seen in one scene, the significance of the carousel and the ups and downs of the horses mirror the ups and downs of life. Even though life has its ups and downs, the circle of life continues, and the carousel uses the spinning metaphor to demonstrate that life can come full circle. In Carousel, life surely does come around full circle for Billy Bigelow, as he is offered one day back on earth to see his daughter Louise before she graduates high school.
Rockwall Summer Musicals production is under the direction of Barbara Doudt. She brought together an ensemble cast (of all ages) which worked well together, and collaborated with a crew who clearly took their jobs seriously and knit together scenery, lighting and costumes that enhanced the story being told by these characters. There was some impressive vocal range for the principal characters, as well as the ensemble. It was enjoyable to hear such tight harmonies fill the space, and bring back the days of classical Broadway, during a time when the music, the story, and the choreography exquisitely worked together to create a beautiful story. I always find it to be a pleasant and delightful experience at the theatre, when being entertained by the familiar songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein-the quintessential musical theatre collaboration team.
Scenic Designer Gayle Sackett successfully transformed the proscenium stage into multiple locations. There were quite a bit of scenic changes to accommodate the multiple locations required within the story. Overall, I felt that the time period was conveyed quite nicely. There were a few scenic elements that I felt to be a “bit too modern” breaking some of the illusion for me- for example, the top of the carousel. While grand in entrance (it flew in from above to top off the carousel) was wrapped in miniature Christmas lights. The horses of the carousel were so exquisite, and just as I was pulled into the moment, this small detail reminded me that I was watching a performance, and was not 100% invested into the story. I was impressed with Ms. Sackett’s attention to detail in other areas as the production unfolded. The locations at Cousin Nettie’s Spa and the little island where the musical number “A Real Nice Clambake” took place along the New England coast were fantastic. There was just enough detail to set the scene, while also being fully functional in the needs of the production. There were also some very lovely and picturesque backdrops that gave an 1870’s antique painting-like feel to the background. There were two different coastal images that added much of a three-dimensional feel to the scene. Overall, Ms. Sackett’s attention to detail and precision for detail with elements of scenic design were both pleasant and an appealing treat in seeing this production.
Marie Bull's lighting design was executed with fantastic results. She used some lovely colors to really accentuate the mood, feeling and emotion appropriate for each scene. I always find it to be very visually pleasing to see colors splashed on the cyc (for non-theater folk that is the massive white screen that is way behind the action). Not only does this function as a way to conceal action backstage, but, it truly is a “blank canvas.” It can display colors that are appropriate to each scene and mood, and can also function as the endless sky delineating things like day and night, and also sunrise and sunset. As a passionate theatrical spectator, I love it when the stage is splashed with color, emits the emotion of the scene, and displays the character’s personalities in a totally different way. It brings an essence of magic to the performance.
Costumes were designed by two local costume shops in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area, Dallas Costumes, and Harris Costumes. Ms. Wiloni Darrington served as the Wardrobe Mistress for the production. I enjoyed seeing some lovely period-style costumes. Each lead and each member of the ensemble donned a unique costume- that was very indicative of 1870’s fashion. The costumes were colorful, and embodied everything that I would expect to see on stage from the time period. There was always something appealing to see in the element of costume design.
Overall, I thought the technical elements of the production were designed and created effectively. However, it should be noted that I was brought out of the moment several times, which left me slightly disappointed. I know as an audience member, sometimes we must believe in the “suspension of disbelief,” where, as audience members, we are willing to leave all thoughts of reality behind, as we truly are willing to believe what is happening on stage to be a reality. We “suspend” disbelief for a brief amount of time, for the sake of entertainment, and imagination. However, I was slightly disappointed to see the carousel being removed from the stage by the stage crew members dressed in modern clothing. It simply works better when crew/tech members are either dressed in solid blacks or wear period-appropriate costumes. It was also a surprise to me, to see one of the stage crew members with a large I-Phone in their back pocket. There is no amount of “suspension of disbelief” that could have pulled me back into the moment at that point. It took a great deal of time and trust to pull me back into the illusion.
Clayton Sackett was incredibly believable in the role of carousel barker, Billy Bigelow. Through facial expressions, body language, and an honest portrayal of his character. Mr. Sackett’s enthusiasm and honesty on stage was nearly constant. Mr. Sackett carried a lovely vocal range, and never faltered in his delivery. All interactions with other cast members were believable and spot on. I really felt that Mr. Sackett’s character took a complete journey from beginning to end, and allowed the audience to fully experience a change in his life as the story unfolded.
Carrie Pipperidge was played marvelously by Lucy Shea. Shea was very convincing through her facial expressions, body language, and a phenomenal vocal range. Ms. Shea was full of energy, and provided the audience with even more of an opportunity to laugh during the more serious moments. I was most impressed with Ms. Shea’s vocal presence on stage. She was able to belt some spectacular notes. One of the best musical numbers from Ms. Shea was “Mister Snow.” It grabbed my attention almost immediately after “The Carousel Waltz,” and by far, one of my favorite musical numbers in the entire production.
This production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel is certainly worth seeing for it makes for a fun theatrical experience. Not only is it one of those classical pieces from the Rodgers & Hammerstein canon, but in my opinion, this musical contains a score that everyone should be introduced and exposed to, It has recognizable and catchy music that will leave you singing for hours after the curtain comes down…or maybe that’s just me. From the moment the overture begins, Carousel will send you off on a fun and light afternoon or evening of local musical theater. Carousel is ‘busting out all over’ at Rockwall Summer Musicals. But hurry, there is only one weekend left to experience this classic Rodgers and Hammerstein production. Get out and support local theatre!
RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN’S CAROUSEL
Rockwall Summer Musicals
Rockwall High School Performing Arts Center at Utley Middle School
1201 TL Townsend, Rockwall, Texas
Plays through July 3.
Friday July 1 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, July 2 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, July 3 at 2:00 pm
Ticket prices range from $19.00-24.00, depending on seating and ticket level. Adults tickets are $24.05, Senior tickets are $22.00 and Student tickets are $19.90. For info and to purchase tickets visit: www.rockwallsummermusical.org