Music by RICHARD RODGERS
Books and Lyrics by OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II Based on Ferenc Molnar's play "Lilliom"
As Adapted by Benjamin F. Glazer
Original Choreography by Agnes DeMille
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.
Richard Rodgers considered Carousel his favorite of all his musicals and wrote "it affects me deeply every time I see it performed". It has been named the Best Musical of the 20th Century and has set the standard for others. Carousel features the most beautiful score and the most skillful, and affecting example of Rogers and Hammerstein's musical storytelling ability.
The musical score is unchallenged in its beauty: "If I Loved You", "June is Bustin' Out All Over", "When The Children Are Asleep" and the beautiful Soliloquy as well as "What's the Use of Wond'rin?" and the formidable "You'll Never Walk Alone."
Carousel required considerable modification during out-of-town tryouts, but once it opened on Broadway on April 19, 1945, it was an immediate hit with both critics and audiences. Carousel initially ran for 890 performances and duplicated its success in London's West End in 1950. The piece has been repeatedly revived, recorded several times and was filmed in 1956. In 1999, Time magazine named Carousel the best musical of the 20th century.