I’ve come to the realization that all of my posts so far have been about the “flavor” and not so much the “symphony.” As I mentioned, I’m currently playing in the pit orchestra for a local high school’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, which has been a blast. They hired some pros just to give some support, but the orchestra is mostly students and they are doing a great job. Carousel is not an easy show by any means; it’s very vocally demanding, there’s a lot of dancing, and the score is tough, but extremely beautiful. It’s a shame the storyline is so depressing…but the kids are absolutely acting, singing, dancing, and playing the pants off of this show.
For those who have never seen Carousel, the whole show basically takes place in one day, until the end, which is 15 years later. The basic story follows Julie, a naive mill worker, who meets and marries Billy, a former carousel barker who is out of a job, drinks too much, and is extremely unhappy. There’s a bunch of sub-plots (just as in any musical), there’s a clambake, and Billy and his friend get mixed up in a robbery and Billy ends up dead. He then has to try to make amends in order to get into heaven. Like I said, super depressing, very dark, but the score is gorgeous. This was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s second collaboration (after Oklahoma), and features songs like “If I Loved You,” “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over,” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Plus, this production even has a full scale carousel…and it’s motorized so it spins. 🙂
(Side note: I’m a total carousel junky. I’ve always loved them, and I can’t visit an amusement park without riding the carousel. My horse has to go up and down, and I love being as close to the band organ as I can. It is my dream to one day own a carousel horse.)
I have a lot of time between songs during scenes, as in most R&H shows; when I played Oklahoma a few years ago, I did 75 crossword puzzles during the three week run. One thing I’ve really enjoyed during this run is watching the students play. I student taught in this district, and all my little babies are now high schoolers (my 8th graders are now seniors). Most of them don’t remember me, but it’s so nice to see them still playing their instruments and loving it. I have a perfect view of the principal violinist, who plays just beautifully. She and the principal second violinist both love playing their instruments; I can tell by their movement with the music and their facial expressions while playing. I’ve also been watching the pianisy, who, for a high school sophomore, plays with so much grace and fluidity. A lot of the kids have found parts of the show to laugh to and parody, but the two trumpet players to my right have actually taken to looking up the lyrics and singing along.
I’m taking a course on “musical identity” for my masters right now, so the concept of how people are themselves and how they relate to music is on mind a lot. It’s clear that these kids clearly see themselves as musicians, and are able to find connections to this music. This music was written over 50 years ago, so it just goes to show that this material really is timeless.
BTW: My favorite line in the show has nothing to do with anything, really, and doesn’t really make any sense at all: “She’s in the kitchen, busier than a bee in a bucket of tar.” Bees in tar? Who knows?