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Theatre Review: ‘Carousel’, St Cuthbert’s Hall, Burnley, to November 10th

Billy Bigelow (Richard Parrish) and Julie Jordan (Natalie Barrett) in

Billy Bigelow (Richard Parrish) and Julie Jordan (Natalie Barrett) in "Carousel" at St Cuthbert's this week. (S)

THERE was a bonfire and fireworks on the park outside and a colourful carousel inside when I headed to St Cuthbert’s Hall on Monday night for

a heartwarming evening all round.

“Carousel” is the musical being presented by the church operatic and dramatic society this week and the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic is one of those productions that makes you want to laugh, cry and lose yourself in the music.

This show for me is all about the lovely songs and St Cuthbert’s have a large mixed chorus plus some strong principals that do them proud. How pleasant to hear “You’ll Never Walk Alone” sung as it was meant to be sung and not just as a football anthem. And the memorable “If I Loved You” was beautifully done by the very well cast principal pair of Nicola Barrett who plays Julie Jordan and Richard Parrish who is the wide boy with a heart Billy Bigelow, the carousel barker who falls in love with her in this story set in Maine, USA in the late 19th century. His antics lead to tragedy and heartache all round and this show is all about love, prejudice, feelings that are never expressed, tragedy, regrets and finally hope for the future.

Mix in the excellent scenery that the St Cuthbert’s production crew make themselves and it is a show that producers Susan Barrett and Janet Gilbert did justice to and there were few opening night mistakes apart from a little prompting now and again.

Sadly, society stalwart and chairman Alan Woodworth had to stand down from his small role due to illness, but his part was taken over at short notice by the experienced Malcolm Gent so there was no distruption to the show. It was the first St Cuthbert’s production I have seen without Alan and wish him well.

Altham’s Travel sponsored the musical and it was like taking a trip to a land of strange accents and songs about having a real nice clambake. Great fun. It is good to see a lot of young talent coming through in the junior parts and I’m sure it won’t be the last we see of the likes of Katie Broadley, Callum Bell and Blake Morris.

Principals Nicola and Richard sang and played their parts beautifully throughout and were very convincing. It was also good to see Helen Pollard in the major role of Carrie Pipperidge and, teamed up with the excellent Michael Smith as her husband Enoch Snow, they made a real comedy team. Rachel Barowclough always impresses, this time in the role of Nettie Fowler, and well done to the whole cast for an entertaining production.

Producer Susan said she had played the lead role of Julie when St Cuthbert’s first performed “Carousel” in 1974 and now her daughter had taken on the role while fellow producer Janet also has grandchildren in the cast. 38 years on and that carousel is still turning and entertaining us so royally.

The show’s musical director is Brian Townend, with accompanists Margaret Wrigley, Frank Lowe and Stephen Willoughby. Janis Condon is the choreographer.

“Carousel” continues until Saturday, November 10th, at 7-15pm each evening in the hall in Sharp Street, Burnley, and you can pay on the door or call Susan on 07808 610116 for tickets.

Margaret Parsons

 

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