This is the second show I have been to at the Barbican in recent times, and again I was given the impression that it is a theatre I am missing out on. The Barbican centre, and as a result the theatre inside, has something of that 70s architectural bleakness about it, but being in the minority in this respect gives it a certain charm as a performance venue. One feature worth mentioning is the massive retractable stage curtain, which consists of two rather noisy pieces of plastic that slide from the top and bottom of the stage and meet in the middle, bringing a whole new meaning to the term ‘final curtain’!
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel features some of the most powerful music ever written for the stage and the most well-remembered of this writing duo, including the immortal ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, ‘If I Loved You’ and the joyful ‘June is bustin’ out all over’. Therefore it was no surprise to note that the age demographic of the audience was somewhat older than average, however, this should not discourage younger viewers from enjoying what was a fantastic production of this timeless classic. Opera North’s touring cast did a terrific job with the musical; their intention to present a largely un-altered version of the masterpiece (with the exception of a few injections of modern dance) was clear and committed. I must confess that I found the whole evening rather lengthy – obviously this is a criticism to be levelled more at Messrs R&H – the fantasy plot in the second act grew rather tiresome for my tastes. Nonetheless, the performance had some sparkling moments; Claire Boulter’s evocation of Carrie Pipperidge was adorable and appropriately motor-mouthed and excitable; Elena Ferrari’s rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone was extremely moving, as was the ultimate chorus reprise of the number and; William Kenning’s and Alex Newton’s extended dance sequence in the final act was entirely entrancing.
This would be the perfect evening for a family night out or a nostalgic trip down memory lane with Rodgers and Hammerstein. Failing either of these scenarios, you really don’t need a valid excuse to go, so book tickets here.
Continues until 15 September.
Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, Mark McCloskey.