In a Maine coastal village, toward the end of the 19th century, the swaggering, carefree carnival barker Billy Bigelow captivates and marries the naive millworker Julie Jordan. Billy loses his job just as he learns that Julie is pregnant and, desperately intent upon providing a decent life for his family, he is coerced into being an accomplice to a robbery. Caught in the act and facing the certainty of prison, he takes his own life and is sent ‘up there.’ Billy is allowed to return to earth for one day fifteen years later, and he encounters the daughter he never knew. She is a lonely, friendless teenager, her father’s reputation as a thief and bully having haunted her throughout her young life. How Billy instills in both the child and her mother a sense of hope and dignity is a dramatic testimony to the power of love. It’s easy to understand why, of all the shows they created, “Carousel” was Rodgers & Hammerstein’s personal favorite.
Music by Richard Rodgers
Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Based on Ferenc Molnar’s “Liliom” as adapted by Benjamin F. Glaser
“Carousel” had a cast of 50 actors, singers and dancers including many newcomers to the Players’ stage. Ron Augsburger made his debut as musical director for the production. The amount of time the scene changes took on opening night was the only concern of the reviewer. It was felt that as the show progressed during its run, the changes would become faster. Otherwise, the show was highly praised with the warning that one may need tissues at the end of the show. “Carousel” also proved to be a financial success.