Carousel

Carousel (1988) was a musical theatre production produced by The Norwegian Theatre in 1998, based on the musical by Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (book and lyrics), in turn based on Ferenc Molnár's play Liliom. The production was performed at the theatre's main stage.

The American director Steve Stettler directed it.

Information

(Objekt ID 31808)
Object type Production
Premiere March 20, 1998
Produced by The Norwegian Theatre
Based on Liliom by Ferenc Molnár; Carousel by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II
Audience Adults
Audience size 7526
Number of events 34
Language Norwegian Nynorsk
Expressions Musical, Theatre
Running period March 20, 1998  
Website Det Norske Teatret
More

At the webpage of The Norwegian Theatre the following, among other things, is written about Carousel:

"Imagine a society of hard-working people, in a weather-beaten, but beautiful coastal landscape. They life off the earth and the sea. Winters are long, but when spring arrives, they dance jolly folkloric dances while singing lyrical love ballads and inspired hymns.

This description of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel could have been just as appropriate for a purely Norwegian musical", writes director Steve Stettler."

Carousel was the favourite of the legendary pair Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, whose hit list also includes Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music. Today, more than 50 years after the writing of these musicals, they are familiar classics in American musical theatre, masterpieces speaking to new times and new communities.

The story of Carousel is based on Ferenc Molnár's play Liliom, set in Budapest during the 1920es. When Rodgers & Hammerstein made a musical of it in 1945, they were uncertain about the reactions from an American post-war audience and just as well moved the action to a small fishing village in New England during the 1870es, with a more swinging end.

Success in London and New York
Carousel opened at Broadway in April 1945, and ran for more than two years. Five years later Carousel opened in London to such expectations applause started even before curtain had opened for the first time. In 1956 a costly Hollywood movie was made of Carousel, on location at the coast of Maine.

Even though Carousel continues to be a popular choice at theatres around the world, the famous production of Royal National Theatre in London captured the modern audiences with full force anew. And the musical returned to Broadway in 1994, winning five Tony Awards, included the award for best revival of a musical. Instructor Nicholas Hytner used the play as the foundation for the musical, his talented multicultural ensemble blew dust off several decades of sweet, romantic versions of Carousel. He chose to expose the class conflict and the sexual tension, directly beneath the surface, instead.

Our production at The Norwegian Theatre moves the action from Rodgers & Hammerstein's Victorian age back to Molnár's original from the 1920es and 30es. In my experience, the economy of the working age and the sexual liberation during the roaring 20es, is a perfect background for the hopeless romance between the charming Tivoli worker Billy Bigelow and the grey miller girl Julie Jordan, just like the scene when Billy returns to the impoverished family is now put to the depression during the 1930es. When these people are presented as ordinary working class, the victories they win become more important and more moving.

Like Death of a Salesman, another American post-war classic recently performed at The Norwegian Theatre, Carousel discusses the conflicts and uncertainty of the modern world through describing everyman. Rodgers & Hammerstein called Carousel a musical play, and they were aware of the depth and complexity in the material, even though they changed Molnár's play to fit their time. When the ensemble sings the last few lines of You'll Never Walk Alone, they bravely look the unknown into the eye. They don't get their courage and strength from old-fashioned clichés, but handle struggle with support from the people they love.

And that, I hope, makes Carousel a musical for our age, and any age."

Steve Stettler

SOURCES:

The Norwegian Theatre, detnorsketeatret.no, 13.10.2012, http://www.detnorsketeatret.no/index.php?option=com_play&view=play&playid=307&tab=1

Repertoire at The Norwegian Theatre 1913-2014. Transferred to Sceneweb 08.09.2015.

Performance dates
March 20, 1998Hovudscenen – Opening night