Carousel review, Nov 2007 - Newbury Weekly News

Musical Merry-Go-Round One of BATS Best Set in the mid-19th century, Carousel follows a love story destined for failure - Billy Bigelow, the roguish carnival caller falling for Julie Jordan, a young picture of innocence. Billy struggles to find direction after leaving the carnival and ends up on the wrong side of the law. It leads to his death and after a brief visit to heaven's back door he is offered one last journey home to right his wrongs.

Carousel opens at the carnival and director Andy Reiss did an exemplary job in creating a fascinating picture across the stage, much of the action well-timed with the music. This was full of life, colour and set the standard for the rest of the show. There were sometimes lengthy scenes, but Andy injected vigor, emotion and intimacy and my attention was never lost.

Songs effortlessly glided from one to the other and musical director Trevor Defferd was the essential ingredient in this achievement. He brought the Rodgers and Hammerstein's score to life, with a well-balanced orchestra, very snappy musical entrances and good contrast of emotion in songs.

To complete the team, choreographer Caroline Ferguson produced some excellent routines with simple but punchy moves, her fisherman's dance demonstrating this perfectly. David Allard gave a fine performance as Billy Bigelow, singing with strong and pure voice. Playing opposite as Julie Jordan, Charlotte Barnes captured the sweetness and purity required, particularly when singing If I Loved You.

Clare Ryan simply sparkled as Julie's best friend, Carrie Pipperidge. This was acted with zest and her singing lit the stage. Playing opposite Clare was Gary J. Myers as Enoch Snow. Gary demonstrated good comedy and a fine tenor voice.

Rob Wilson captured the essence of a menacing Jigger Craigin with great effect. Younger members gave good performances, too, playing Mr Snow's children, and Lydia Thomson as Louise danced well with Bryn Hughes in a seamless ballet.

This was an excellent production where the marriage between the talent on stage and the team that led them paid off dividends and is rated as one of the best I've seen from BATS.

Daniel Maskell

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