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'Carousel' begins rich drama season

U.Va.'s Culbreth Theatre will be far from empty this summer. Thanks to the Heritage Repertory Theatre, the Charlottesville community as well as University students will have the opportunity to see Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic musical, Carousel. The production, which kicks off the Theatre's summer season, will open tonight and run through June 24 and from June 26 to July 1 at 8 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on July 1.

Featuring University students, recent graduates and members of the Charlottesville community, Carousel features a variety of musical numbers complete with a 15- member orchestra and elaborate choreography.

The musical's story centers about two main characters, Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow, played by Nancy Snow and Harold Mortimer. Snow, who starred as Maria in last summer's West Side Story, will go on to act in a national tour of Phantom of the Opera after she completes her work with HRT. Mortimer, an acclaimed operatic performer, who is nationally renowned for musical roles across the country, hails from New York.

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  • Heritage Repertory Theatre

    Snow said that Carousel would be a great way to start the new millennium and was "expected to be better attended than 'West Side Story.'" She characterized the musical as being different from other Rodgers and Hammerstein works because it is "much darker than other musicals." She added that much of its appeal lies in the fact that it has "a lot of depth, but is still fun."

    The story, set in a small New England town, tells the tale of how Julie, a mill worker, and Billy, a traveling carousel barker, fall in love and later get married. Problems ensue, however, when Billy loses his job and as a result, resorts to violence against his wife. Broke and desperate, Billy plots to steal the mill owner's fortune to care for his family.

    The production's score is full of upbeat and lively musical numbers, some of which feature most of the cast. Many of the musical's leads get the opportunity to display their individual talent in solos and duets. "June is Bustin' Out All Over" comes to mind as one of the show's more energetic performances, while "If I Loved You," a slower duet, is bittersweet and melodic.

    Curtain Call
    Featuring: Nancy Snow
    Harold Mortimer

    At the Culbreth
    Theatre through July 1

    Greg Harris, the production's musical director and orchestra conductor, describes Carousel as a musical that "requires spectacular voices and staging ability" that "showcases the talent of many people." He characterized the play's score as "not technically difficult, but stylistically and artistically difficult." One challenge present in the score is its fragmentation. Harris said that string players must provide music that is "strong, powerful and rich, but not overpowering." He thought the orchestra should be heard, but at the same time not drown out the singers' voices.

    Carousel will feature a variety of dance numbers ranging from slow and lyrical ballet performances to fast paced, exaggerated, more humorous movements. Megan McNulty, a recent University graduate, choreographed the musical by re-staging most of the choreography originally done by Agnes DeMille. She said she "used the new Lincoln Center production as inspiration" for some of the dances. McNulty added that her role as Louise was a challenge because she had never been in a musical she had choreographed herself before. Already experienced in the theater arts in her fourth season working for HRT, she used her drama background at the University as well as her training with the American Repertory School of Ballet in her performance as Louise, Billy and Julie's daughter.

    With many talented actors and actresses as well as a variety of backgrounds and classic Rodgers and Hammerstein songwriting, Carousel has the ability to draw large audiences this summer. Tickets are available at HRT's box office in the Drama Building and are $14 for students. The box office number is 924-3376 and may be reached Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


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