Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Whirl on a Waterford Carousel

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It was marvellous to see the Theatre Royal full with an midweek audience of young and old for the inaugural production of a brand  new musical society, The Waterford Musical Society presented Carousel, a musical penned by Rogers and Hammerstein after the success of Oklahoma. A mix of emotions pervaded the atmosphere in the Viking Triangle at the eagerly anticipated debut.  Excitement, pride, nostalgia and glee and regret too made for  a bittersweet cocktail that in some ways chimed with the dark musical itself.
Carousel has a fairly  grim clunky  plot that  doesn't sit easily into the musical genre. That said, it has great gags and terrific show stopping members including the iconic Liverpool anthem. An extra round of  virtual buala bos here for these five elements I particularly loved about the production.

1 A live band in the pit!  Oh the luxury of real and not synthetic brass, reed and strings emanating from the pit under director, Wayne Browne. I've noted with apprehension, the drift towards using backing tracks for musical productions. I would prefer to listen to the rehearsal pianist live than the a sophisticated backing. I've heard perfectly acceptable solutions with two pianos. I won't fork out for a show if I know backing tracks are providing the accompaniment.

2 The Costumes. Cast and chorus look splendid in vintage costumes. In particular, we loved  the tableau of colourful circus performers in the first scene.

3The Carousel. Having a horse in a show is usually  a good thing.  Lots of pretty horses on the carousel. The on stage assembly of the carousel was super slick.  We were just sorry it didn't feature again in a later scene.

4 Super performances all round.  With an elegant stage presence and a clear strong voice, star of the show was Lupita de Bháil as Nettie Fowler, an aunt Ella type role.  At school in Presentation, I remember Lupita Sheehan creating sets for the school shows but I was unaware of her stage talents until last night. Indeed I was delighted to see at least one Pres girl of my era on stage. Lovely to see a mix of generations involved in the production

5 Best Cameo.  Des Manahan has given so much pleasure to audiences in his many comic roles for societies throughout Ireland. Dressed in silver to match his hair, Des added his own unique blend of gravitas and humour  in the cameo role of Starman.

Venue Notes: The audience in the balcony were a bit fidgety. There was a lot  of unnecessary movement that was irritating and did spoil some quieter moments such as Billy's soliliquay.  If someone does exit for whatever reason, they should not be readmitted until an interval or at least they should  only be admitted between songs and  encouraged to sit on  spare seats on the periphery rather than making their way back to middle of a row .  In this theatre, this requires other patrons to stand interrupting the proceedings for everyone in the vicinity. I was distracted when a staff member made his way through the balcony to deliver popcorn  during a song. .

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