Tuesday, January 19, 2016

reviews - CAROUSEL - Arizona Broadway Theatre

the cast of Carousel
Photo Courtesy of Arizona Broad
way Theatre / MikeBPhoto.net

highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through February 14th.

"...The opening of this new ABT production is a dazzling presentation of sight and sound. ...As Lizzie Hatfield’s arrangement of the opening musical theme starts to build, so, too, does the fairground carousel; piece by piece, horse by horse, until a full, colorful array of fairground horses and eager paying customers turn in delirious, thrilling circles to that famous, rousing Carousel Waltz. It’s very impressive. So are the following moments played out between Billy (Michael O’Brien) and local factory worker Julie (Jeannie Shubitz) as they meet for the first time, where they flirt and imagine what their lives might be like if they were in love. ...culminating with the beautiful and beautifully sung "If I Loved You"...Shubitz and O’Brien make two vastly appealing leads...Alyx-Marie Kleinsteiber’s striking nineteenth century costumes nicely capture the period, while Jim Hunter’s imaginative and effective set design, colorfully lit by Colin Riebel with atmospheric background sounds of evening fairground crowds and late-night crickets by Eric Johnson help bring the whole show alive... has an overall colorful, confectionery look to its presentation, it doesn’t shy from downplaying those bleak themes. ..the inspiring and emotional "You’ll Never Walk Alone" never fails to stir and will still be resonating in your head as you leave the theatre. Composer Richard Rodgers has said that the song and those emotive, final moments are meant to make you cry. For many, enjoying this ABT production, I’m quite sure it will."  " -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"The classic musicals of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II are beloved by many due to the memorable characters and songs they feature. But they also touch upon many social issues. The duo's Carousel is their darkest show, with an underlying focus on the effects of domestic violence. It also features their most sophisticated score... Arizona Broadway Theatre is presenting a fine production of this classic musical, with a thoughtful, understated performance from Jeannie Shubitz as the female lead, Julie Jordan....Stephen Casey does an expert job in directing the show... However, while ABT's production doesn't shy away from the spousal abuse at the center of the story, it also doesn't dwell on it, and even seems to skirt away from it at points... playing it too safe. Fortunately, Jeannie Shubitz and Michael O'Brien form a realistic duo as Julie and Billy. ...Shubitz is perfect in presenting Julie as the headstrong yet discontented woman who is fascinated by Billy...Casey's choreography is a perfect combination of period steps, athleticism, and sensuality. ...The combination of four carousel set elements with Alyx-Marie Kleinsteiber's beautiful period costumes and Colin Riebel's rich lighting create an explosion of color in the magical opening, "Carousel Waltz,"...With some beautiful ballads, intriguing characters, and situations that few musicals examine, Carousel is a stirring musical. However, with a main male character who is more of an anti-hero, the serious underlying topic of spousal abuse, and several songs that flow in and out of the dialogue, Carousel has always been the one Rodgers and Hammerstein show that I've found a bit hard for audiences to truly love and fully understand. Even with my reservations about the downplaying of the abuse, the combination of Stephen Casey's clear direction and strong choreography and Jeannie Shubitz's moving and understated yet clear performance of the imperfect woman at the center of the story make ABT's production of this American classic very solid."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"...Arizona Broadway Theatre's depiction of beauty shimmers on the surface in "Carousel." Like a veneer that conceals what we'd prefer not to see, the sensory overload--through words, music, color and mood--worked powerfully on a number of levels, from the subtle to the overt. A huge contributing element of last night's beauty was in a set that is visually stunning. ...tells the decidedly un-fairy-tale of a headstrong, young lady, Julie (Jeannie Shubitz), who falls in love with a proud, short-fused man, Billy, who has lost his job as a carousel barker. Just beneath the lovely surface, at the show's heart, is their unvarnished love relationship of tension and uneasy feelings......the sweeping score and mesmerizing balletic dance breaks were further colored by the evening's energy and spunk. Jill-Christine Wiley as Julie's best friend, Carrie Pipperidge had sparkle and pizzazz that drew deserved attention like a magnet. Her charisma only grew when beau Enoch Snow (played by Andy Meyers) added an endearing mix of humor and affection at her side.......a sensitive tale of redemption. ... Director Stephen Casey's cast danced and sang with their hearts on their sleeves. ...In a show whose fame is derived from the uplifting message that we never walk alone, Shubitz's portrayal of unconditional love forced those surrounding her, audience included, to bare the heavy burden of supporting someone we love in the face of neither understanding nor accepting their behaviors. We want to rescue her. Yet Shubitz maintains that the complicated reflection of reality is directly tied to the show's allure...." - Jennifer Haaland, The Examiner.com (click here to read the complete review)

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