Posted on: 15 December 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Laurence Green reviews Lindsay Posner’s revival of the classic musical Carousel at the Savoy Theatre

A star is born in the shape of Alexandra Silber whose expressive features and sincere, deeply affecting performance coupled with a richly textured singing voice, as naïve, innocent mill girl Julie Jordan lights up Lindsay Posner’s spirited, yet sad revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical Carousel.

The story, set in a 19th century New England village, centres on the fatal attraction of Julie Jordan for lothario carousel barker Billy Bigelow.  However when Billy loses his job after incurring the jealousy of his female boss, he falls under the influence of scheming criminal Jigger and his fate is sealed. 

Now married to Julie and prone to bouts of domestic violence, he agrees to take part in a robbery.  This, though, goes badly wrong and Billy ends up in heaven, where, years having passed in a twinkling, he watches his daughter bloom into an attractive, intelligent young lady and determines that she will not follow in his footsteps as an outcast.

This bitter-sweet musical fantasy about missed life chances and the possibility of change was written in 1945 but still strikes an emotional chord 60 odd years on, although this production lacks the power and depth of the National Theatre’s superb revival a decade ago. 

The show, nevertheless, still retains the dark, moving nature of the original and there is so much to impress, most notably a dream ballet choreographed by Adam Cooper and the climatic scene where the emotionally disturbed Billy returns from heaven’s ‘waiting room’ for one last day on earth, bringing a true touch of pathos.

It is not hard to see why many consider Carousel to be one of the greatest musicals of the 20th century for it contains such celebrated, memorable numbers as If I Loved You, June is Bustin’ Out All Over - danced here with great verve and vitality, The Carousel Waltz and best of all You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Under Posner’s assured direction there is a whole host of first rate performances.  Apart from Alexandra Silber already mentioned, Jeremiah James fully convinces as the rough, tough, smooth-talking Billy, while Lesley Garrett brings a combination of joy and optimism to the role of Julie’s aunt Nettie Fowler and her rendering of June is Bustin’ Out All Over and You’ll Never Walk Alone is in itself worth the price of a ticket!

In all then a captivating and engrossing night in the theatre.

By Laurence Green

Plays until 25th July 2009.


Box office: 0870 164 8787

Savoy Theatre:

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