Bad boy meets good girl. Bad boy woos good girl. Bad boy tries to change his ways. Sounds like a typical love story, right? Suddenly, bad boy finds himself in a sticky situation where money, murder, and mayhem threaten to destroy everything that good girl and bad boy had built together. The story doesn’t sound so typical anymore. At the turn of the first act, you’re not sure how it’s all going to end. And all it takes is a trip to Robsham Theatre, to enter the world of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical Carousel.
Put simply, Carousel could be stripped of all its words and lyrics and would still be a spectacle to behold. The costuming brings each character to life. The set pulls the audience into each scene, and the seamless execution of Rodger’s timeless score by the orchestra provides a sonorous musical backdrop and even tugs on a heartstring or two. Throw in some remarkable acting from the star David Makransky (Billy Bigelow), MCAS ‘17, and outstanding vocal performances from Christie Coco (Julie), MCAS ‘17, and Brett Murphy (Enoch), MCAS ‘18—to name just a few—and the result is a show that pulls you through the highs and lows of love, loss, and the carousel business in a way that highlights the immense talent of the Boston College theater community.
At its core, Carousel is about trying to redefine who you are and the struggles that come with it. All Billy Bigelow wants is to abandon his carousel-barking days and support his family, but his efforts to make that a reality prove costly. Even Billy’s daughter (Katherine Tague, MCAS ‘19) can’t escape the negative image of her father, an image he wants her so desperately to rise above and conquer. Julie’s best friend Carrie (Lauren Strauss, MCAS ‘18) wants to rise out of typicality and live a wealthy life with her wannabe entrepreneur husband Enoch. These struggles show just one example of the fact that these characters were meant to be portrayed in a certain dynamic manner. The cast fulfills this tall task with grace and ease, which allows the audience to see past the superficial and into the deeper messages of the musical.
It certainly isn’t easy to capture the essence of a classic musical, especially when the players involved are college students. That idea is no barrier at all, however, for these performers. Makransky epitomizes the abrasive, cocky swagger that defines the Billy Bigelow character, Ted Kearnan, MCAS ‘17, plays the part of the manipulative hoodlum Jigger to a tee, Strauss portrays a smart but love-drunk Carrie in a charming way, and the general ensemble brings it all together with professional-level vocals and mesmerizing dance sequences.
A few numbers stand out as especially noteworthy. “If I Loved You,” one of musical theater’s most beloved songs, exposes the vulnerability of both Billy and Julie, as they sing about the hypothetical love that they definitely do not have for each other. The lush orchestration of this number, combined with the beautiful voices and tender subject matter, make this one of the most memorable parts of the performance. Also, beware of “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over,” because the excited bounce of the song is sure to get stuck in your head for days to come.
At one point in the show, Jigger proclaims, “Just to see your lovely smile, I’d swim through beer—with my mouth closed!” After seeing the entirety of BC Theater’s charming performance of Carousel, I can safely say that I’d do the same to see the show again.
Featured Image by Lucius Xuan / Heights Staff