Carousel is a romantic fantasy from both Heaven and Earth, tracking the tragic New England love story of fast-talking carousel barker Billy Bigelow and naïve mill worker Julie Jordan. Garrett plays Julie’s cousin Nettie Fowler, who sings the anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. She’s joined in the cast by Jeremiah James (as Billy), from Theatreland pop group Teatro, and Alexandra Silber (Julie Jordan), recently seen at the Savoy in Fiddler on the Roof.
The production reunites director Lindsay Posner and producer Kim Poster of Stanhope Productions Ltd, who brought Fiddler on the Roof for an extended season at the Savoy last May after its initial Christmas run at the Sheffield Crucible. It’s choreographed by former Royal Ballet principal Adam Cooper and designed by William Dudley, with costumes by Deirdre Clancy, lighting by Peter Mumford, orchestrations by Larry Blank and musical direction by David Firman.
Nicholas Hytner’s 1992 production was referenced in almost all of the overnight reviews, with most critics nostalgically recalling the “definitive” NT revival and inevitably drawing comparisons with the efforts of Garrett and co. However, despite some complaints about the “overmiked” singing and a weak final act, most were generally warm in their appreciation of the production, particularly the “vocally impressive” leading performances and the “thrilling illusionary deftness” of William Dudley’s projection-heavy design. And Lesley Garrett was praised for a powerhouse performance of “the big number” (“You’ll Never Walk Alone”), even if some found her acting to be, in the ever-acerbic words of Nicholas de Jongh, “winsomely artificial”.
- by Theo Bosanquet