Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Tony Award-winning Carousel is one of the most celebrated and longest running musicals in history. The production by Act Two@Levine was a good choice, providing many parts for the talented youngsters who take part in these polished productions. They are selected from local talent from many high schools and provide a launching post for singers and actors who entertain aspirations in the theater. Schools represented include Walter Johnson High School, Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, The Bullis School, Montgomery Blair, the Washington Waldorf School, Walt Whitman High School, Bethesda Chevy Chase High School, and several middle schools.
Act Two @ Levine undertakes an ambitious repertoire, often staging large scale productions with large casts, complex sets, and costume changes, and live music. Recent productions have included Ragtime, Legally Blonde, Spring Awakening, and Jekyll & Hyde.
Carousel is the story of a love affair gone wrong. Billy Bigelow, who is laid off from a carnival, tries to resolve his financial problems in preparation for the birth of a child. The robbery goes wrong, he is shot, but has an opportunity to come back to earth to improve his prospects in heaven as well as to correct the impact of his death on his young daughter. Thus, it is a story of attempted redemption and a final chance to make things right.
The wonderful score includes memorable songs we all know such as “I Loved You”,”June is Busting Out All Over” and “When the Children Are Asleep,” ” What’s the Use of Wond’rin” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” It’s hard to pick a favorite.
The cast included Bryce Gudelsky (Carrie), Kayla Dixon (Julie), Abby Blaine (Nettie), Josh Beede (Billy), Cameron Mitchell (Enoch), Sean Watkinson (Jigger). and The Carnival Boss was played by Sophie Spencer-Zavos. The excellent performances are less surprising when you read their bios which indicate that almost all of these actors have performed in several other shows, including Grease, Hair, Peter Pan, Bye Bye Birdie, the Music Man, The Phantom of the Opera, and CYou’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. Kayla Dixon and Sean Watkinson are proficient dancers, which came in handy given the challenging choreography. (Sean Watkinson is a founding dancer for the Renegade Dance Company.) Notably, Kayla Dixon, Cameron Mitchell, Bryce Gudelsky and Josh Beede were able to project their character’s personality through their songs and all of them succeeded in engaging the audience emotionally. Cameron Mitchell was very effective in his comic relief role.
Credit is also due to vocal coach Cate Frazier-Neely, Musical Director Josephine Riggs and Director/Production Designer Kevin Kuchar, Stage Manager Rachel D’Amboise and Scott Selman, who was responsible for the beautiful Lighting Design and the Sound Design.
I’m glad to give these talented young actor and actors our highest and well-deserved five star rating.
Carousel was presented on March 1-3, 2013 by Act Two @ Levine at the Figge Theater at Georgetown Preparatory School -10900 Rockville Pike, in North Bethesda, MD. For more information about Act Two @ Levine, go to their website.