Earlier this week I headed to the Watford Palace Theatre to see an amateur production of a musical I've loved for a long time - Carousel. I myself played Arminy in a (considerably lower budget) production of Carousel in late 2015, so it's a show I know absolutely inside-out and back to front - despite having never actually seen it from an audience perspective.
The casting in this production was absolutely spot on! Julie Jordan was played by Jennifer Carr, who had a lovely voice, and was joined onstage by her mother, Mandy Carr, playing the (very sassy and borderline threatening) character of Mrs Mullin. The role of Carrie Pipperidge was played by Emma Stratton, who, having been in Carousel twice before as a Snow child and Louise, brought her Carousel journey full circle in this production - and gave an absolutely astounding performance in the process! She was joined onstage by her real-life husband Russell Stratton as Billy Bigelow, with David Sutherland playing her onstage husband, Enoch Snow. Billy Bigelow will always be one of my favourite characters (ever!) because he gets to sing 'Soliloquy' (one of my favourite songs on the planet), but I thought Russell's portrayal of Billy was particularly wonderful. Jigger is written as a nasty character, but David Southorn really brought the character to life, (even standing threateningly in the shadows during 'Clambake'!). Geoffrey Farrar was laugh-out-loud funny as the Star Keeper, and made a very funny pair with Lisa Matthews as the Heavenly Friend! Hannah Victoria Chapman made a fantastic Louise - especially in the ballet section, where it was a genuine pleasure to watch her dance.
The choreography itself was very impressive, not just because it was enjoyable to watch and managed to encompass a pretty large cast into big dance numbers, but also because it was really similar to Agnes De Mille's original choreography, while still appearing fresh and original!
Last but not least, I have to mention the set, which just seemed to keep going! Every so often, a cloth would come down for a scene, only to come up for the next scene revealing a completely different set behind! Very impressive, especially for an amateur production!
Overall, ALGSS have triumphed in stepping out of their usual Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire, and I can't wait to see what else they do in the future!
Follow Abbots Langley Gilbert and Sullivan Society on Twitter @ALGSS