Tuesday, March 13, 2012

So. Carousel.

I haven't yet found the review that describes Jonathan McGarrity (so biased, last year's festival show's Antony) as "physically perfect" but I can well believe that it exists. For he was. Actually. And I don't say this very often with amateur ventures.

He was playing a silly empty-headed but ridiculously handsomely charismatic swaggering showman. Now, Jonathan is neither silly nor empty-headed but he managed to pull the former traits off, rather ably assisted by pre-existing ample doses of the latter.

He 'played' (as the pretentious say) alongside a rather fetching 'feisty' girl who allowed her head to be turned by aforementioned showman. And the plot unravelled (I use the word intentionally) from there.

The trouble with the overall venture was that aside from a few exceedingly competent people, it was a bit ramshackle. And I'm afraid that my attention span is such that even exceedingly competent people don't make me embrace sitting for THREE hours to watch a limpid story limp to a faintly unsatisfactory close.

Obviously, the story is nobody's fault but Rodgers and Hammerstein. And I'm sure it has plenty of devoted fans. My patience stretched thin when the wild cockney friend started flashing his knife about the stage. And snapped when the showman died - but popped up a few minutes later in front of his day of reckoning.

We did attend the first night which can be a mistake. Jonathan did suggest that the show had lacked pace in its dress rehearsal. So I should have been prepared. But I'd hoped to be enchanted by spectacular dancing and rousing chorus singing and heartfelt tear-brimming emotion. I got a bit of this last. Perhaps they imported some spectacular acrobatic dancers later in the week as I didn't see much of them on the Tuesday.

But I'm being unkind and I don't believe in being unkind about amateur shows unless they really really deserve it. And this one didn't as it tried really hard. There were some really good things in it. Helen (a 'star' I think) was lovely. The fairground horses were (the reviewer is right there) absolutely delightful. The June is Bustin' Out All Over girl was rousin' and bustin' and just right. The sister was plaintive and long-suffering and vindicated in her safe choices. The feisty pretty was lovely. And Jonathan. Well. I've said enough about him already.

All of these are exceedingly impressive in any show, let alone a (hate the word) 'amateur' one. And what is the alternative? Only doing shows you know you can perfectly all-embracingly cast?

The age old question.


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