Carousel waltzes into Birmingham this week courtesy of the Birmingham and Midlands Operatic Society (BMOS). The classic Rodgers & Hammerstein's musical is brought to life by this dedicated amateur company that boasts professional production values.
The lead roles of Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan are played by James Gordanifar and Abigail Wells respectively and together portray a relationship full of love and angst convincingly. Wells is faultless in her performance with stunning singing and performances, and while Gordanifar's accent sometimes slips, he is a fantastic Bigelow switching between the emotions the character goes through with ease.
Also worth mentioning are Marie Donnellan (playing Carrie Pipperige), Chris Psaras (Enoch Snow) and Sallie Jolliffee (Nettie Fowlier) who help to bring the story to life with great performances, most notably Jolliffee's rendition of the most famous song "You'll Never Walk Alone".
Where the leads excel, the large ensemble sometimes seem a bit lost on the stage and unsure of their position within the show. The stage, though large, sometimes struggles to contain everyone in the group numbers and some members look to be struggling to keep up with some of the routines. However, although this can be criticised, it must also be applauded that BMOS tries to get the most from their members.
There are some delightful moments in the show, most notably ‘the ballet' in which the audience visit the future and see where life's journey has taken the characters. It's a chance for the younger members to come to the fore with Elysia Stretton and Liam Huband showing signs of being future stars playing the roles of Louise and Enoch Junior.
The show does suffer from pace issues, though this is mostly down to the repetitive songs and music by Rodgers & Hammerstein. There are also moments that show great promise but sadly aren't quite achieved, but hopefully during the short run things will be tightened up. Of these the most notable is what should be a heart breaking moment when Bigelow dies which doesn't tug at the heart strings due to the un-emotive performances from some of the characters until Julie Jordan and Nettie Fowlier show their emotions.
Overall, if you're a fan of the very traditional American musical then this is sure to be a show you'll enjoy. The orchestra are fantastic and the very dedicated team of those behind the scenes deserve a special mention. However as a fan of more modern shows and storytelling I found the show to be quite slow and at times unexciting.
- Jonathan Wright