posted November 5, 2002

Carousel Features Large Student Cast

Hope College Theatre will present Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's much-loved musical, "Carousel," as the second offering of the current season.

A run of six performances begins on Friday, Nov. 15, and continues on Saturday, Nov. 16, and Wednesday through Saturday, Nov. 20-23. The production will be presented in the main theatre of the DeWitt Center. All performances begin at 8 p.m.

According to several accounts, "Carousel" was Rodgers and Hammerstein's personal favorite of the many musicals on which they collaborated--a list that includes "Oklahoma," "The Sound of Music," "South Pacific" and The King and I."

Critics and audiences have agreed over the years. When it first appeared in 1945, "Carousel" ran for 890 performances and won several awards, including the prestigious New York Drama Critics Circle Award for "Best Musical." When the National Theatre of England revived it in 1993, and returned it to Broadway in 1994, it again won several awards, including four Olivier Awards, five Tony Awards and eight Los Angeles DramaLogue Awards. In 1999, "Time" magazine voted "Carousel" "Best Musical of the Century."

There happens to be an interesting connection between Hope College and the recent English revival. In that production, American actor Michael Haydon played the role of Billy Bigelow. Haydon spent two seasons as an actor with the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre.

Hope's production of "Carousel" joins an international Richard Rodgers centennial celebration marking the 100th birthday of the famous composer. The worldwide commemoration includes stage productions and concerts, ballet, jazz and film tributes, new books, recordings and television programming, museum exhibits and more, according to The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization in New York.

"Carousel" is based on "Liliom," a play by Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnar. Rodgers and Hammerstein transferred the locale from Budapest to a small New England town in the late 19th century.

The plot centers around a love affair between Billy Bigelow, a carnival barker (played by senior David Mark Ovies of Royal Oak) and Julie Jordan, a local mill worker (played by junior Sara Luneack of Alma). Trouble develops in the relationship as Billy's darker side emerges, revealing him to be undependable and even abusive as a husband.

When he learns that he is going to become a father, he tries to obtain some much-needed money, only to lose his life in a botched robbery. Several years later, Billy is allowed to return to earth in order to search out and meet his daughter, who is now an unhappy teenager. The visit allows him to redeem himself with one final good deed.

As in all works by Rodgers and Hammerstein, "Carousel" contains a rich musical score, winsome melodies and memorable lyrics which support and inform the story.Several songs have become American standards: "If I Loved You," "June is Bustin' Out All Over," "What's The Use of Wond'rin?" and "You'll Never Walk Alone" are some of the best known.

In addition to Ovies and Luneack, the large cast includes: senior Brenna R. Bosma of Orland Park, Ill., as Nettie Fowler; senior Joshua Brandenburg of Hamlin, N.Y., as Jigger Craigin; sophomore Clarissa Stowell Gregory of Portage, Wis., as Miss Louise; junior Daniel Kwiatkowski of Cheboygan as Enoch Snow; senior Anne Mathias of Jackson as Carrie Pipperidge; junior Angela Mishler of Pickford as Mrs. Mullin; and junior Erik Saxvik of Libertyville, Ill., as Starkeeper.

Others in the Ensemble include: senior Rachel Carrozziere of Rochester, N.Y.; freshman Emily Casey of Wheaton, Ill.; freshman Mike Dominiak of Dearborn; freshman Alexandra Eaton of Traverse City; junior Matthew Farmer of Bangor; sophomore Helen Fylstra of Hinsdale, Ill.; freshman Alyssa Garcia of Belmont; freshman Peter Gillotte of Laingsburg; sophomore Katherine Grambau of Kalamazoo; freshman Peter Hammer of Laurel, Mont.; freshman Kelly Hargrove of McHenry, Ill.; junior Tim Heck of Libertyville, Ill.; sophomore Rebecca Helene Hillyard of Rochester, N.Y.; and freshman NoahDavid Lein of Kewadin.

Also in the Ensemble are: junior Micah J. Maatman of Kalamazoo; sophomore Andrew Meyers of Churchville, N.Y.; junior Tara Mistry of Schaumburg, Ill.; sophomore Patrick Patton of Grahamsville, N.Y.; senior Alyson Payne of Three Oaks; sophomore Grace Margaret Pollert of Ada; junior Carmen Rabbitt of Muskegon; sophomore Katherine Seifert of Plymouth; freshman Kendra Stock of Saint Charles, Ill.; freshman Andrew Taylor of Flushing; freshman Eric Van Tassell of Spencer, Iowa; sophomore Shelly Walker of Brighton; and sophomore Lisa Warmus of Rochester, N.Y.

Area school children involved in the ensemble include Ali and Griffin Baer, Anna Carissa Torres and Kaija von Websky.

Several Hope faculty and guests are in charge of the production, which is being directed by Daina Robins, a member of the theatre faculty and chairperson of the department.

Choreography is by John Dayger, formerly associated with both the Hope theatre and dance departments and Hope Summer Repertory Theatre. Currently Dayger is living in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., where he is on the University of Illinois dance faculty.

Kelly Daab, music teacher and director of Vocal Dimensions at Holland High School, is ensemble music director. Steven Ward and Linda Dykstra, both assistant professors of music at Hope, are serving as orchestra director and vocal coach respectively.

Costume design is by Michelle Bombe, also a member of the Hope theatre faculty and resident costume designer. Scenic design is by local guest designer Todd Engle. Lighting design is by guest designer Damon Herbert from the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival in Louisville. Sound design is by guest designer Richard Ingraham of Cleveland, Ohio. Paul Anderson of the Hope theatre staff is the technical director.

Emily E. Parkhurst, a junior from Lansing, is the rehearsal accompanist. Amanda Joy Weener, a junior from Grand Rapids, is the production stage manager.

Tickets for "Carousel" are available in the theatre lobby box office in the DeWitt Center, and cost $7 for regular admission, and $4 for senior citizens and students. The ticket office is open from Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from noon 5 p.m. Telephone reservations may be made by calling (616) 395-7890.

The DeWitt Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.