Carousel – Music Theater of Lincoln Center Revival Cast Recording 1965
Instead of an overture, Carousel begins with a unique prologue that sets up the story about to unfold. The scene is an amusement park on the New England coast on a spring afternoon in 1873, and the action is pantomimed to the music of the orchestra (Prologue: “The Carousel Waltz”). The sights, the sounds and the temptations dazzle the local townspeople. The big attraction is Mullin’s Carousel, though it competes with the allure of a tent promising “The Beauties of Europe” and other curiosities – a dancing bear, a juggler, a clown, a ballerina and a bevy of dancing beauties. Watching it all is the barker for the carousel, a handsome boy named Billy Bigelow. The girls all flirt with him, but his eyes lock on one in particular – Julie Jordan, who is visiting the park with her friend Carrie Pipperidge. Mrs. Mullin, the owner of the carousel, berates Billy for losing customers by letting the girls distract him. He has them all buy tickets for the carousel, but it is Julie he escorts to her seat. Billy settles her on to the wooden horse and stays with her to share the ride. The carousel begins to spin. Mrs. Mullin seethes as potential customers drift toward the other attractions – and Billy moves closer to Julie, as the intoxicating waltz whirls to its conclusion. ACT I Julie and Carrie are strolling near the shore, minutes after their carousel ride, angry that Mrs. Mullin followed them and warned Julie to stay away from Billy. Billy, it seems, tried to speak up for Julie, which made Mrs. Mullin angry enough to fire him. He leaves to collect his things, and the girls are thinking about what happened when they stop to sit on a bench. Carrie voices her frustration with Julie’s elusive ways (“You’re a Queer One, Julie Jordan”), but can barely contain her joy when she confesses she herself has found a “feller” (“Mister Snow”). Billy wanders along, all packed up, and the girls tell him about themselves. They work at Bascombe’s Cotton Mill and live in the boarding house the company provides. They have a curfew, which Carrie leaves to meet, but Julie risks being fired to stay and talk to Billy. The mill owner Bascombe happens on them, as does a policeman who tells them that Billy is bad news. Despite Bascombe’s warnings, Julie stays with Billy. Evening descends as they sit on the bench talking, dancing around the fact that they are so intensely attracted to each other. Neither will confess to falling in love, but they imagine what it would be like (“If I Loved You”). Time has passed: it is a beautiful day in June, and Billy and Julie, now married, are living with Julie’s Cousin Nettie at her seaside spa. Everyone in town is headed out to a coastal island for a clambake, and Nettie explains their excitement (“June Is Bustin’ Out All Over”). Carrie arrives, and Julie tells her she is worried about Billy: he has been hanging out with a sleazy sea dog named Jigger Craigin, and he is not working. In fact, Julie says, Billy has struck her, though she reassures Carrie he only did it because he cannot find a job. When the other girls arrive, Carrie marvels once again at her own good fortune (“Mister Snow” – Reprise). Jigger turns up with his shipmates (“Blow High, Blow Low”), followed by Carrie’s intended – the enterprising Enoch Snow – who describes the life he envisions for Carrie and himself (“When the Children Are Asleep”). When they depart, Jigger gets Billy alone for a moment, to pitch an elaborate plan to sneak away from the clambake during the treasure hunt and rob Bascombe, who will be carrying a great deal of cash that night. Even Billy is uneasy with the plan. But in a moment alone after Julie tells him she is pregnant, he ponders what his future could possibly hold (“Soliloquy”) – he fondly imagines a son, but the prospect that the child could also be a daughter throws him into a panic. To provide for his family-to-be, Billy agrees to Jigger’s plan, grabbing a knife from Nettie’s house, and they join the crowd headed for the clambake as the curtain falls. ACT II The curtain rises on the island later that evening, as the happy but weary crowd relaxes on the beach (“A Real Nice Clambake”) before the treasure hunt. Up to no good as he waits for Billy, Jigger makes a pass at the gullible Carrie, upsetting Enoch Snow. Julie is worried when she sees Billy slip away with Jigger, but bittersweet experience has taught her to be philosophical (“What’s the Use of Wond’rin’”). Back on the mainland, Jigger and Billy attack Bascombe, who defends himself. The robbery goes awry when he wrests the knife out of Billy’s hand, and Jigger runs off. With the police on their way, Billy frantically grabs the knife and stabs himself, to avoid the humiliation of being caught. The crowd from the clambake is beginning to return. Julie arrives and cradles Billy as he dies, telling her with his last breath his reason for doing what he has done. The stunned Julie falters as she tries to console herself with words she sang in school, and Nettie finishes them for her (“You’ll Never Walk Alone”). On the other side of this tragedy, Billy is escorted away by his new Heavenly Friends. Defiant about what lies ahead of him, he demands that to be taken before God to hear his punishment (“The Highest Judge of All”). However, he is taken to a celestial place, where the Starkeeper – who is literally hanging the stars – gently inquires of Billy if he has left anything undone in his earthly life. The Starkeeper tells Billy that he might be able to expiate his sins and get into Heaven if he returns “down there” and does a good deed. He explains to Billy that time has passed quickly on earth, and the baby-to-be he left Julie with is now a fifteen-year-old girl named Louise. They watch her from above. But all is not well: Louise is attracted to the wrong boys and shunned by the other girls. Billy wants to go back, to help the daughter he never knew. Before he leaves, he steals one of the Starkeeper’s stars. Carrie, now the mother of nine little Snows, visits with Julie at her seaside cottage, as they prepare to leave for Louise’s graduation from high school. Louise runs in, telling them a strange man just approached her on the beach, tried to give her a star and slapped her hand when she refused it. Julie runs outside to confront the stranger, but only finds the star sitting on a chair, as Billy (invisible to her) tenderly restates his love for her. The graduates assemble at the high school, and the local doctor – who looks a lot like the Starkeeper – wishes them well and reminds them of the inspiring words they have always sung. Unseen but heard and felt, Billy pleads with Louise to believe in herself. She is suddenly moved by a sense of hope and embraced by her classmates as they sing (Finale Ultimo – “You’ll Never Walk Alone”). Billy whispers one last plea to Julie – “Know that I loved you.” As Julie joins the singing, reassured and renewed, Billy Bigelow departs with his Heavenly Friend, his work done and his love enduring.
Carrie Pipperidge: Susan Watson Julie Jordan: Eileen Christy Mrs. Mullin: Benay Venuta Billy Bigelow: John Raitt Policeman: Thomas Barry Mr. Bascombe: Ralston Hill Nettie Fowler: Katherine Hilgenberg Enoch Snow: Reid Shelton Jigger Craigin: Jerry Orbach Hannah: Jenny Workman Boatswain: Birl Jonns Arminy: Dixie Carter Captain: John Dorrin Heavenly Friend: Gwyllum Evans Starkeeper: Edward Everett Horton Louise: Linda Howe Carnival Boy: Birl Jonns Enoch Snow, Jr.: Richard Oliver Principal: John Dorrin Singing Ensemble: Lynn Carroll, Ronn Carroll, Dixie Carter, Cathy Corkill, Gene Davis, Audrey Dearden, John Dorrin, Dorothy Emmerson, Cleo Fry, Ben Laney, Tarry Marone, Laried Montgomery, Bob Neukum, Lucille Perret, Joseph Pichette, Philip Rash, Sean Walsh, Peggy Wathen. Musical Director: Franz Allers