News Column

Audiences will enjoy Paramount Acting Company's take on 'Carousel'

June 26, 2014

By Charity Apple, Times-News, Burlington, N.C.



June 26--THEATER REVIEW

Of the musicals Richard Rodgers co-wrote with Oscar Hammerstein, his favorite was "Carousel."

"Tender without being mawkish, it affects me deeply every time I see it performed," Rodgers said in a 1975 interview.

Audiences will feel the same way about the Paramount Acting Company's performance of "Carousel." Like a carousel, life definitely has its ups and downs and at times, leaves us spinning. The characters in "Carousel" go through changes and like real life, those experiences aren't always pleasant. But they shape who we are.

Set on the coast of Maine in 1873, "Carousel" doesn't lose its appeal in the modern world. At its core, the show is about the search for love and happiness, despite one's circumstances.

David Anthony Wright, managing director of the Paramount Theater, directs the show and has assembled veteran performers as well as those new to the stage, including those audiences will recognize from the Gallery Players' performances of "Les MisÉrables" earlier this year -- Bryan O'Kelley Cox as Billy Bigelow and Ashlea Burton as Carrie Pipperidge, among others.

Like "Les Mis" before it, the voices in this show are incredible. Cox and Kathryn Muhlenkamp (Julie Jordan) as the carousel barker and mill worker, respectively, have terrific chemistry and on the song, "If I Loved You," chill bumps are bound to dot your arms; they're that good.

Vocal powerhouses S. Elizabeth Carroll (Nettie Fowler) and Burton will leave audiences mouthing "wow" as they did during Tuesday night's rehearsal.

All too often, community theaters shy away from "Carousel" because it is felt that a carousel, complete with hobby horses, needs to be used to fill the stage. The Paramount Acting Company's production doesn't have that, nor is it needed. The talented actors and actresses tell the story through dance and music, and the set design, from Nettie's spa to a waterfront complete with star-filled sky, truly sets the scenes, as do the eye-catching period costumes.

It's important to note that all of the performers, as in most community theaters, are volunteers and most of them had never danced before this production. Choreographer Betsy Reeves has incorporated the ballet steps and jumps, kicks and flicks found in this show and the dancers are captivating in their routines. The "Louise Ballet" with Meredith Matchen (Louise) is mesmerizing.

No matter how appealing the name "Carousel" is to children, the show is filled with adult themes such as domestic violence and four-letter words, so it's best to leave the young ones at home.

Whether you've seen "Carousel" before or this is the first time, the live orchestra with 14 players under the direction of Dr. Garrett Saake, only intensifies the appeal of beloved classics such as "If I Loved You," "June is Bustin' Out All Over" and "You'll Never Walk Alone."

Like "Les Mis," these performers have created a magical, melodious masterpiece that audiences will be talking about for years to come.

Showtimes are at 8 p.m. today and Friday, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Paramount Theater, 128 E. Front St., Burlington. Tickets are $15 for adults; $12 for seniors, students, groups of 10 or more and $11 for groups of 20 or more and can be purchased between noon and 3 p.m. weekdays at the box office or by phone at (336) 222-TIXS.

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(c)2014 Times-News (Burlington, N.C.)

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Source: Times-News (Burlington, NC)


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