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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

All ages take part in 'Carousel'

By Andrea Budde/Contributor

The Week
Lakeland Players will present "Carousel" beginning this weekend in Elkhorn.
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein have made audiences laugh, cry and smile for generations. The Lakeland Players will be making local audiences do just that in their season-ending production of "Carousel."

The play takes place in a coastal village in the state of Maine. It is the end of the 19th century when carnival barker Billy Bigelow (Christopher Elst) courts and marries local millworker Julie Jordan (Aimee Leonard).

Soon after tying the knot, Julie finds out she is pregnant. As Billy isn't able to make enough money working for the carnival to support the baby, he is coerced into assisting a robbery.

When Billy gets caught red-handed in the middle of the robbery, he decides to take his own life as opposed to facing certain jail time. He is sent "up above" where Billy is allowed to come back to earth for one day. As the time "up above" is different than that on earth, 15 years have passed since Billy took his own life.

His daughter, now in her teens, has been haunted by her father's reputation as a crook and a thief. As such, she is a lonely, friendless outcast. During his day back on earth, Billy provides his wife and daughter with a sense of hope they so strongly needed.

"'Carousel' is a classic Broadway musical for good reason, and audiences owe it to themselves to experience their own community's shining production before taking in the new Hollywood version set to debut next year," Christopher Elst said.

Along with the normal cast of characters, "Carousel" has its own chorus and dancers.

"It involves ordinary people doing what they love to do--acting, singing, dancing, designing, building, sewing, organizing, directing, producing, choreographing and more. There are people of all ages in this show," cast member Brian Wales (who is playing Enoch Snow) of Elkhorn said.

"All the cast struggled with the near-operatic quality of Rodgers' score, but after weeks of training with directors Kevin and Kelly Rathunde, the beauty of the music rings clear," Elst said.

Several local high school students from Badger, Big Foot, Burlington and Elkhorn are in the production, as well as actors and actresses of all ages. There are children as young as 4 acting in the play.

"'Carousel' was composer Richard Rodgers' favorite musical score and includes hit songs "If I Loved You" and "You'll Never Walk Alone." It will be an event not to be missed," Wales said.

Performance dates are May 9-11, and May 16-18. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday performances are at 2 p.m. The show is being held at The Walworth County Performing Arts Center, 15 W. Walworth St., Elkhorn.



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