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Ramasar, Pollack heading to Broadway in Carousel

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13 hours ago, vipa said:

Thank you NinaFan for that review. I'm looking forward to seeing the show. In respect to the show and the #metoo movement, I think the bigger issue to grapple with is not Billy's behavior (he is a character who engages in violent behavior towards his wife), the trickier part is her reaction to it. In the original, when Louise asks her mother if it's possible to be hit and it not hurt at all (paraphrasing), Julie replies it is possible. That line has been removed from this production. Julie seems accepting of the abuse. IMO portraying that is a tricky thing in any time period, but more so now.

This is the scene:  (Yes, for some reason, Tiler Peck's book scene is on Youtube, but the ballet is not.)

And yes, I would agree that the challenge now with interpreting Carousel is not the portrayal of the flawed Billy.  It's the interpretation of Julie.  How do you interpret "What's the Use of Wondrin'?"  Do you still underscore the "he hit me, but it felt like a kiss" scene (above) with "If I Loved You" and what does that say?  

It's like the Shylock question.  The original writer clearly viewed the situation one way ("Yes, of course the best resolution is to force Shylock to convert!"), and that's very uncomfortable for contemporary audiences.  Our local Shakespeare company did a beautiful production of "Two Gentlemen of Verona" last year.  I don't think there is any way that they would do it this year for the same reasons.

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On 4/8/2018 at 8:43 PM, Quiggin said:

Regarding "Pygmalion," I remember it being pointed out that because Higgins makes a strong independent woman out of Eliza, she sees through him and has to reject him. Shaw's irony is lost if she stays. That's the ending that always seemed reasonable to me. 

Oh, I'm not disagreeing with that. But perhaps Shaw didn't work that out clearly in his ending to the play.

(I'd say, however, that it's not so much that Eliza "sees through" Higgins as she realizes that he will never be husband material. Shaw does suggest that. I like to think that Eliza was always a strong independent woman, which is why she seeks out Higgins on her own in the first place. She wants something better in life and she goes after it.)

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Posted (edited)

Justin Peck is nominated for a Tony award for best choreography for Carousel.  (No nominatons for Ramasar or Pollack.)

Many award nominations for this revival.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/01/theater/tony-awards-nominees-list.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Farts&action=click&contentCollection=arts&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront

Edited by abatt

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I saw Carousel last night and was *so bummed* that Ramasar did not dance!!! 😞     It was fun to see Pollack and Craig Salstein, but very disappointed about Ramasar. Hope no injury, and can't wait to see him back at NYCB. 

I am someone totally unfamiliar with musical theater and I went into the show knowing nothing except what I've read about the production and "metoo" etc. Yes the central relationship is problematic, and I wondered about the portrayal of Billy in this production. He just seemed mean. I didn't sense any moments of tenderness between him and Julie, didn't get a sense of what she saw in him at all. Wouldn't there be a way to portray him where he's deeply flawed, but more sympathetic, at least some of the time? Like with a scruffy charm, or someone who has tender moments. Maybe we're supposed to be baffled at Julie's choice, but it would be more relatable to me if I could at least understand something she saw in him. But he just seemed brutal and mean. 

Otherwise, however, I absolutely loved it, and left thinking I've really been missing out by focusing exclusively on ballet and opera. Theatre, here I come!! The music, the singing, and the production were all totally ravishing, and I was awash in weepy tears at the end. I'll be eager to see it again when it shows up on TDF.

 

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I saw the production a few weeks ago on May 1st.  Amar was in as Jigger Craigin and I expected to be impressed with his dancing but also found his acting quite natural and his handling of dialogue convincing.

I found the two leads problematic in different ways.  Something that was brought up by Canbelto in her blog review and is apposite here is that there is little or no sexual chemistry between Julie and Billy in this production - Jessie Mueller and Joshua Henry just don't strike sparks.  Julie Jordan needs to have this quiet, "still waters run deep" manner about her with passion and strength underneath it.  The bench scene needs to crackle with undertones of suppressed sexual excitement, danger and desire.  Jessie Mueller just didn't capture Julie's personality at all making the character dull, passive and recessive.  Joshua Henry is certainly physically built, handsome and imposing but he didn't radiate the charisma with insecurity underneath it that is so central to Billy.  But the lack of connection between the two leads is the problem and contributed to your bewilderment.  BTW: I thought Joshua Henry's "Soliloquy" was outstanding.  I could get into the subject of casting a black actor as Billy and some of the racial issues/perceptions that arise from that.  Making him a black man in a white community kind of makes Billy's problems with society, women and money a racial issue instead of a class and attitude problem.  But that is a fraught subject that is open to be misconstrued and misapplied.  Another thing:  the old-fashioned light operatic "legit" vocalism of Broadway in the early and mid-20th century seems to be a thing of the past.  Carrie Pipperidge was a high belter and Julie Jordan a folky soprano - neither the lyric soprano of Jan Clayton, Jean Darling, Barbara Cook, Shirley Jones or Florence Henderson.  Similarly, Joshua Henry had a gritty high pop baritone that could handle the wide range of the "Soliloquy" but wasn't an operetta baritone like John Raitt, Alfred Drake or Howard Keel.  Even Renée Fleming as Nettie toned down the operatic overtones in "You'll Never Walk Alone".  

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Posted (edited)

I returned to Carousel for a second viewing, and so happy to get to see Amar Ramasar (he was out the night I saw it the first time). I found his acting convincing, but the only problem, if that's the right word, was his dancing -- it's so inherently noble that I found it impossible to believe him as a total low life. 

Agreeing with the previous posts about the lack of chemistry between Julie and Billy. On the other hand, the Carrie Pipperidge-Enoch Snow pair were absolutely totally delightful. 

Edited by cobweb

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On 5/11/2018 at 7:19 AM, FauxPas said:

Another thing:  the old-fashioned light operatic "legit" vocalism of Broadway in the early and mid-20th century seems to be a thing of the past.  Carrie Pipperidge was a high belter and Julie Jordan a folky soprano - neither the lyric soprano of Jan Clayton, Jean Darling, Barbara Cook, Shirley Jones or Florence Henderson.  Similarly, Joshua Henry had a gritty high pop baritone that could handle the wide range of the "Soliloquy" but wasn't an operetta baritone like John Raitt, Alfred Drake or Howard Keel.  

That's a shame.  Jessie Mueller is actually a quite good legit soprano, and has played quite a few of the classic legit soprano roles in the past very well: Amalia in "She Loves Me," Cinderella in "Into the Woods," and of course, Carrie in "Carousel."  I think she still does "Ice Cream" in concert, and sings the high B very capably.

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Carousel is closing on Sept 16.  It looks like Ramasar and Pollack may be returning to NYCB sooner than expected.

 

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Just now, abatt said:

Carousel is closing on Sept 16.  It looks like Ramasar and Pollack may be returning to NYCB sooner than expected.

 

Yipee! :clapping::clapping::toot:

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Wow, I have to see Carousel again one more time before it closes! I have not been a musical theater person and knew absolutely nothing about Carousel, but went because I had an out of town visitor who wanted to see a Broadway show, and I wanted to see Ramasar. Wound up being totally swept away, and thanks to my new TDF membership (why did I not join this sooner??!), I have it seen more times than I care to admit. Will be very, very glad to see Ramasar back where he belongs (ballet), though. I don't think he's so great as Jigger Cragin. His acting is one-note and brittle, IMHO, and the innate nobility of his dancing undercuts his character's low-life-ness. Can't wait to see him resume his whole-hearted ballet nobility. 

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I'm surprised how quickly this show is closing.  It must cost a lot of money to run, but the show somehow never attracted a huge audience. 

 

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I was hoping to see this in October. The Tony excerpt was fabulous -- and quintessential Justin Peck. Guess that won't happen! Too bad.

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6 hours ago, abatt said:

I'm surprised how quickly this show is closing.  It must cost a lot of money to run, but the show somehow never attracted a huge audience. 

 

As I said before, Carousel is very hard to do well, and the subject is problematic, especially to modern audiences.  But even in its original run, it only did about half the run of the other "big" R&H musicals.

More generally, musicals are expensive to run, and it's hard to make profit on Broadway.  A big reason why "Chicago's" been able to run so long is that it's orchestrated for a handful of musicians, and sets and costumes are so minimal.  (Also, the Weisslers are notoriously cheap, but that's a whole other thing).

I took a quick peek at the Broadway grosses, and Carousel's only running at a little over 40% of potential gross and trending down.  It makes total sense that they close after summer tourist season, and get the show on the road in a tour as quickly as possible to try to recoup their losses on tour.  I'm sure they want to open the house to another show that has potential to do better.  (40%? Yeesh!)

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I'm sad for Carousel that it's closing shop, but I'm SO excited at the prospect of having  Ramasar back at NYCB; I've missed him. 

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4 hours ago, sidwich said:

As I said before, Carousel is very hard to do well, and the subject is problematic, especially to modern audiences.  But even in its original run, it only did about half the run of the other "big" R&H musicals.

More generally, musicals are expensive to run, and it's hard to make profit on Broadway.  A big reason why "Chicago's" been able to run so long is that it's orchestrated for a handful of musicians, and sets and costumes are so minimal.  (Also, the Weisslers are notoriously cheap, but that's a whole other thing).

I took a quick peek at the Broadway grosses, and Carousel's only running at a little over 40% of potential gross and trending down.  It makes total sense that they close after summer tourist season, and get the show on the road in a tour as quickly as possible to try to recoup their losses on tour.  I'm sure they want to open the house to another show that has potential to do better.  (40%? Yeesh!)

Wow did not expect that, with a (to me and people around here) stellar cast and quite some publicity, Tony awards and all. 

But yes I echo other's sentiment re. Ramasar's return. NYCB principal men's rank is very depleted at the moment.

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So I returned for a final viewing of Carousel, a week ago tonight... the night when I got home excited to see Amar back at NYCB soon, and then the news about him, etc., came out. But a few final thoughts about Carousel. I have really loved this; it's left me a weepy mess each time. I'm hard-pressed to think of another work of art, in any format, that has such a direct and immediate impact on my emotions. I leave the theatre in a state of catharsis, having cried more or less for two and a half hours. In terms of singing, I especially love the rich, resonant voice of Joshua Henry - when he hits that high note "... or DIE!!!" at the end of the first act, I feel flung back against my seat. The reprise of "How I Loved You" - is this number not on the cast album?? (or is it just not on the version posted to YouTube?) Also loved the totally delightful Lindsay Mendez, who I would be happy to see again in anything. Also have to mention that I have enjoyed the sexy Andrei Chagas as the Fairground Boy. On to the plot points. Trying to figure out why this visually appealing, beautifully sung production is closing so early, I consider the abusive central relationship. But can't quite figure out why this is a problem. Sure, it doesn't fit in with the #metoo movement, but did the Billy-Julie relationship ever fit in with the times? When Carousel opened in 1945, I doubt that little girls in the audience were thinking, I want to marry a man like that when I grow up! The way the Billy-Julie relationship is presented, it's ugly. Very ugly. I notice that Julie is not presented as a passive victim. Again and again people around her confront her - "Julie, do you like him?" "There's some of them you just can't help." "Common sense may tell you that the ending may be sad." Etc. Every time, she definitely asserts herself to stay with him. Just rambling here. If anyone has any readings to suggest (that don't presume a background of musical training), I'd be interested to read about the genesis and psychology of this show. Just really glad I experienced this!!

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I was there for one last performance Friday night. Ramasar performed as scheduled, and looked like his usual self, a confident and noble performer. Have to add, after seeing several performances of Carousel, that Joshua Henry's utterly committed, physical performance as Billy Bigelow, along with his sumptuous, rich and resonant voice - are truly incredible. I saw several performances of this production, and it was a very moving and rewarding experience. 

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