Carousel (Landor Theatre)

Posted on July 22, 2011

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Let me start with a little bit of theatrical blasphemy. I don’t like Rogers & Hammerstein. I understand why they were important, and even revered, but to me R&H musicals are a bit too twee and the songs a bit boring. This judgement is based purely on the film adaptations and the numerous, awful amateur productions I’ve been forced to endure over the years.

Okay, so that said, my friend ______ fell ill and couldn’t use his tickets to see ‘Carousel‘ at the Landor Theatre, so, being the kind of person who hates to see tickets go to waste, I gladly accepted them and went along.

I couldn’t help but think of all the dirty things I wanted to do to that young, impressionable, handsome Mr Snow!

I’d never been to the Landor before, and had been told that the pub has been seriously renovated, and it certainly looks it. I’m also a complete whore for a good beer garden, so I can see myself spending more time here in the future.

Heading upstairs to the theatre, the stage looked promising. Simple but professional. The designers obviously knew how to make a budget work – it was colourful and multi-purposed.

So a house that was about half full, the show began. The opening overture and dance routine actually worked very well in the small space (in fact, all of the dance sequences were well executed), and using the actors bodies to form a human carousel was both simple & ingenious.

Vocally too, the cast were very good. Strong harmonies and some very clear voices to be heard. There was only one real vocal let down – but I’ll get to that in a bit.

The stand outs of the night were Iddon Jones & Chelsea Corfield who both provided the best laughs and the best performances of the evening. I must confess, that in some of the evenings duller moments I couldn’t help but think of all the dirty things I wanted to do to that young, impressionable, handsome Mr Snow!

The other supporting roles are well-played, and while some of the performers are clearly talented, there was some over-acting going on in the background – but these are clearly young performers still honing their skills, and their sheer exuberance made up for other failings.

But the show is hobbled by the two lead characters of Billy Bigelow & Julie Jordan. While being beautiful & a strong singer, Julie here is flat & unlikable (and to be honest it takes a pretty good actress to sell the “I love him but he hits me” aspects of the piece to a modern audience), and Billy is, well… I won’t go into it, but needless to say, it was not well acted and his vocal delivery was bewildering (rather like how I imagine Winston Churchill would have sounded if he sung).

And it’s a real shame, because had those two roles been stronger this would have been a very good production indeed. As it was, I needed a stiff drink afterwards to decompress… and think about the blue eyes of Iddon Jones’ Mr Snow.

Rating: Disappointing first go, but I’d give several of the key players a second date.

Posted in: Fringe, Musical