In addition to their talent for writing such incredible musicals as Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music, Rogers and Hammerstein never shied away from asking tough questions, which is evident in their dark tale of abuse and redemption—Carousel, now playing at Boulder's Dinner Theatre.
At a time when America presented itself as nuclear families discovering the suburban dream, Carousel exposed sweat shops, seamy seamen and an abusive itinerant carnival barker named Billy Bigelow. As Bigelow, Wayne Kennedy is a man caught between the instinctive and violent behavior that has allowed him to survive in a world that exploits uneducated, poor men such as himself, and his spiritual need to love and be loved.
Kennedy's dynamic vocals move freely from the robust Soliloquy where he dreams about his soon-to-be child to the tender reprise of If I Loved You, when he revisits his family after his demise.
Shelly Cox Robie as Julie Jordan, Bigelow's wife, paints a complex picture of a woman both resigned and compassionate towards her husband's condition. As always, Robie's singing is a joy in such classics as If I Loved You and What's The Use of Wond'rin?
Joanie Brousseau-Beyette as Julie's best friend, Carrie Pipperidge, delivers a delightful Mister Snow, and Barb Reeves steps in with powerful renditions of the favorites, June is Bustin' Out All Over and You'll Never Walk Alone.
Ronni Stark's choreography, particularly in the Ballet scene with Rae Leigh Klapperich, in her professional stage debut as Louise, and Scott Beyette, as the Carnival Boy, is inventive and robust.
Boulder's Dinner Theatre's thoughtful production of Rogers and Hammerstein's Carousel runs through October 28th. 303-449-6000.