By Adriana Avila, Senior Reporter | Photo provided By Max Woltman
Like sardines, Carousel is an acquired taste and I have been left tasteless from this play.
The play Carousel written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, playing at the Rodey Theatre located at Popejoy Hall on UNM campus opened on Saturday July13 at 7:30 p.m. had high and low points to this rendition of a classic play directed by Laurie Finnegan and sponsored by Landmark Musicals.
Although the basics were good, this play mixed too many ingredients into their clambake and it gave me a stomach ache. There were few pieces of the play that were not underdone or over seasoned but was not enough to keep me entertained throughout the performance.
The performers and crew members were probably too nervous to function properly or they just needed more time to rehearse, so the crew seemed as they absolutely needed more time to rehearse to make sure the robotics of the dances were oiled and all of the bugs were taken care of before opening night.
The pieces of the play that were crucial to its survival were its fantastic singing and the on cue 23 piece orchestra. It would be better to just get the soundtrack because the great singing and the awesome orchestra were just about the only things that kept the play on a high note.
The dancers could not dance; their movements were mechanical and it seemed they were programmed to hop to one spot where the invisible tape marker was every single time. Also, I felt like I watched the actors after they picked up acting tips from ‘70s movies. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were known to write melodramatic plays but this one took the double-layer cake.
During the performance stage hands and actors could not keep a handle on the props. In scene three, a fisherman dropped his bucket of clams when he was trying to hand it over to another crew mate. The spotlight operator could not get a grip, and the spotlight kept slipping off the actors, that seemed like they were having trouble with how big the spotlight should have been. Throughout the performance there was numerous times that the spotlight’s area was changed and it did not look good at all. By the end of it my head was spinning, and I felt like I was a cat chasing a flashlight. And where was the light going, exactly where it should not have been.
During the opening scene there was a particular juggler who could not juggle. At any circus if the juggler could not get a hold of the balls he or she would be replaced with a second acrobat.
Carousel takes place in a small New England town in the 1880s during the summer. A no-good carousel barker named Billy Bigelow and an innocent young girl named Julie Jordan get married with little motivation, while getting to know each other during a 15 minute scene. Sounds reasonable enough after Bigelow, played by Michael M. Finnegan, threatens to beat up Jordan, played by Alexandra Martinez.
Julie cannot leave her good for nothing abusing husband, and he keeps abusing her, which is apparently fine for him to do so. Where are the morals and life lessons there? I do not understand fully why I sat through the entire performance other than for the music and singing.
In New England it may be okay to put on a performance of Carousel because of its setting and numerous shout-outs to the regional culture, but out here in Albuquerque, there is no real connection to this play. There are no good morals or lessons to be learned from this play and the cultural references are lost among Burqueños so I’m completely unsure why Landmark Musicals chose to stage this play here in Albuquerque.
I must compliment the set design as it was fantastic. Dahl Delu, has designed sets, lighting, costumes and scenery for numerous prestigious theaters including Broadway, and this is his first time working with Landmark. His wonderfully painted Maine coastline sets are beyond the ability of the actors. Delu’s beautiful stage design surpasses this production.
Carousel is the epitome of a wonderful exterior but an unsatisfying center.
One of the most confusing parts about the play was the costumes. But the time frame became clear to me during the last scene at graduation, where the banner read class of 1898. The play is supposed to be from1883 through 1898, not 1873 through 1888. The printing company for the plays handouts, Starline Printing, got a crucial difference of time wrong and confused a few members of the audience. The timeline did not make sense at all and my attention was drawn more to the choice of clothing rather than the plot, which was still not very good.
The design crew got the timeline correct, but Starline Printing had several printing errors.
Although the play itself was unappealing and a few actors here and there were off point in their performances, a few stood out of the remains.
Courtney Giannini, Louise daughter of Billy and Julie, had a great performance. Her dancing was elegant and poise. The play should have ended after the death of Billy Bigelow but I am glad it did not because I would not have had the opportunity to enjoy Giannini’s wonderful performance.
All of the performers, who had the chance to sing, really sang wonderfully, and the actors’ ability to sing kept the play afloat along with the other recognized factors.
Carousel was successful with a great set design, wonderful singing and great music, but that is barely enough to keep the acting and dancing from a flop. For more information on this play running until Sunday July 28, on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 2:00 p.m., go to abqtheatre.org/index. php/per forma nces/ carousel/