Carousel | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader
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Carousel, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. This no-nonsense revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1945 musical resembles the briskly efficient mill where protagonist Julie Jordan works. Even when the songs haven't been cut (the title waltz is a very short ride), the tempi are too fast for these lilting melodies (especially in "When the Children Are Asleep"). It's as if the tale of bullyboy Billy Bigelow abusing, then losing the trusting Julie were a tabloid tragedy best treated summarily. And the lack of New England accents and localizing scenery suggests Oklahoma! with fishing nets.

Director Gary Griffin, whose casting usually has the Midas touch, has chosen a mature Susan Moniz as the unfledged mill girl: she conveys Julie's spunky toughness but misses the innocent flirtation in "If I Loved You." Brian Herriott brings big tenor pipes to the part of the suicidal Billy, but like much here, his "Soliloquy" is by the numbers. You feel he might be penalized for going overtime.

The second act's focus on death and the afterlife slows things down enough to make Billy's posthumous visit (straight out of Our Town and anticipating It's a Wonderful Life) believable. Felicia P. Fields as nurturing Nettie pours her deepest contralto into "You'll Never Walk Alone," and Dale Benson brings his foxy quaver to the twinkling, otherworldly Starkeeper. Strengths throughout are Heidi Kettenring's ebullient Carrie and Ron Rains's deliciously dour Enoch Snow: they deliver the subplot with charm and verve.

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