After successes with Sunset Boulevard and Sweeney Todd, English National Opera continues its annual headline-grabbing foray into musical theatre with Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel.
As with the previous ENO musicals of the past two years, this production is produced by Michael Linnit and Michael Grade (who are also behind the current big-budget production of another Broadway classic, 42nd Street, just opened at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane) and directed by Lonny Price. And, whereas Sweeney had Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson and Sunset (now on Broadway) had Glenn Close, Carousel boasts two more big names leading the cast: classical singers Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins, who are accompanied by ENO’s 40-piece orchestra and chorus.
In Rodgers & Hammerstein’s 1945 Broadway classic is a supernatural romantic musical, famously caught between heaven and earth. Fifteen years after getting caught up in an armed robbery and taking his own life, the charming carousel barker Billy Bigelow (Boe) gets a chance to return to earth and make amends. Discovering that his daughter Louise has grown into a lonely, troubled teenager, haunted by her father’s legacy, Billy vows to restore pride to his wronged wife Carrie Pipperidge (Jenkins) and family.
Carousel marks Jenkins’ theatrical debut. The cast also features Alex Young, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Brenda Edwards and numerous ENO musical alumni. I’ve rounded up key overnight reviews published so far and some features below.