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The original musical “Carousel” is set in a small, coastal whaling town in Maine, complete with an amusement park and a carousel. But when the curtain rises for the first performance of ‘Carousel’ on March 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Palmer Auditorium, the audience will instead view a new setting, reminiscent of New London’s own Ocean Beach Park in its heyday.
That’s because the faculty from the departments of dance, theater and music have collaborated to produce a fresh approach to Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein's classic musical by special arrangement with Ted Chapin, Connecticut College alumnus and former trustee, who is the president and director of Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. They have not only changed the setting to a fictionalized version of New London, but have given the musical a new framework. The iconic blue picnic benches that will be seen on the stage, lent by New London’s Ocean Beach Park, “form our set and our world,” says director David Jaffe. As for the new framework, “The daughter of Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan has grown up and is seeking to make sense of her parents relationship and perhaps to understand more deeply what her roots are,” he explained.
“This risk-taking work will be looked at as a piece of theater that can speak to audiences and our community now,” said Jaffe.
The musical features music by Richard Rodgers and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. The production is based on Ferenc Molnar’s play “Liliom,” as adapted by Benjamin F. Glazer. The dances are the original choreography of David Dorfman, professor of dance, whose David Dorfman Dance is company-in-residence. Other faculty members involved in the production include director Jaffe, associate professor of theater and theater department chair; music direction by Mark Seto, assistant professor of music and director of the Connecticut College orchestra; vocal direction by Wendy Moy, assistant director of music and director of choral activities; costume design by Sabrina Notarfrancisco, assistant professor of theater and set design by adjunct assistant professor and guest artist Edward Morris..
Along with technical director Rodney Dumond and theater services, which Jaffe says are absolutely crucial to the success of any production on campus, more than 25 artistic and crew members support the production, which includes a cast of eighteen. The full Connecticut College Orchestra, comprising faculty, staff, students and local artists, will return to the Palmer pit.
Performances will take place in Palmer Auditorium on March 4 & 5 at 7:30 p.m., and on March 5 & 6 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 for students, military and seniors, and $15 for general admission. Call 860-439-ARTS for tickets and information.