All tagged Rodgers & Hammerstein
Rodgers and Hammerstein changed the face of musical theatre with their groundbreaking Oklahoma! in 1943, and followed it up with their masterpiece Carousel in 1945. Both were big hits in their day, but more importantly, they secured the duo as the most influential composing team of the 1940s, with their structure and style carrying well into the 1960s and inspiring others to write musicals in a similar vein. With the security of ticket sales bolstering their future, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s next musical would be a bold step, an experiment that would stretch the form of Broadway musicals in a way that was decades ahead of its time. That was the 1947 musical Allegro.
Carousel has always been one of my favorite musicals, unyielding and passionate in its telling of two imperfect people entwined in an ill-fated relationship. Yes, it isn’t the easiest pill to swallow, but it was daring musical for its time and continues to be in a world where domestic abuse and misguided codependency still flourish. Part of the reason why this musical continues to resonate is the glorious Rodgers and Hammerstein score.
With the forthcoming revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic Carousel set to open, I thought it would be fun to look back on the controversial gem from 1945. Based on the popular Ferenc Molnar play Liliom, but transposed from its original Hungarian setting to a New England fishing village in the United States, Carousel tells the story of factory worker Julie Jordan, a stubborn young woman who falls in love with a handsome, but troubled, carousel barker with a traveling carnival.
With the recent closing of the Lincoln Center production of The King and I, I thought it would be an appropriate tribute to this lovely production to look back on this oft-revived musical.
Rodgers and Hammerstein had just enjoyed another major success with the Pulitzer Prize-winning South Pacific and set about the find a new property for musicalization. Margaret Landon's novel Anna and the King of Siam would be their source. Based on a true story, the novel told the story of a British governess brought to the royal palace of the King of Siam to teach his wives and children in the Western philosophies and contemporary thought. The musical followed the complicated professional relationship between the monarch and his new employee (and perhaps friend), and their struggle to find a middle ground where tradition and change could coexist.