Category Archive for: ‘Richard Connema’

AN ENCHANTING PRODUCTION OF BOB MERRILL’S “CARNIVAL”.

 

It’s been a long time since I saw this appealing production at the Imperial Theatre in New York in June of 1961 starring Anna Maria Alberghetti, Jerry Orbach (making his Broadway debut) and Kaye Ballard.  The reviews were great such as “A Musical Triumph. It belongs on everyone’s must see list” said Robert Coleman of the New York Mirror or “It bursts with the vitality of Broadway know-how” so said Howard Trubman of the New York Times.  Although the melodic production is rarely revived it was wonderful to revisit 42nd Street Moon production at the Eureka Theatre.  Director Greg MacKellan and company is offering this simple coming of age story with a solid cast providing charm and humor through April 21st at the Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco.

 

“Carnival!” is based on Helen Deutsch screenplay for the MGM’ 1953 film that starred Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer. It takes place in a third-tier carnival traveling the south of France after World War II. “Carnival” concerns Lili,( Ashley Jarrett) a naïve and lonely country girl who father has just died.  She wanders into a carnival to find work and love.  She hooks up with an ex-dancer, Paul (Ryan Drummond), who is ashamed of his appearance and hides behind a set of puppets in order to face the world. Without the puppets Paul is a horror off stage and scares Lily.  She finds some sort of kindness with handsome Marco the Magician (Bill Olson) who is a notorious womanizer, however all ends well for Lily and Paul with the help of the wonderful puppets.

 

“Carnival” has beautiful music such as “Love Makes the World Go Round”,  “Mira” and “Grand Imperial Cirque de Paris” plus chirpy ditties like “Yum Ticky Ticky Tum Tum” and “Beautiful Candy. The circus’s energy come through in the lively dances of Jayne Zaban and usual good work from pianist David Dobrusky. Both director MacKellan and chorographer Jayne Zaban have done a tremendous job on presenting this charming musical on the Eureka stage.  Zaban has added many dance numbers and she turns one song which was rather ordinary in the original “Cirque de Paris Ballet” into a show-stopper.  Greg MacKellan utilizes a talented cast of much differentiated types who can all do circus tricks and creates a whole world with an ensemble of only 14 persons.  Hector Zavala has devised a nice European carnival set with excellent lighting by Sean McStravick and bright costume design by Moises Mora.

Ashley Jarrett imbues Lilly with sweetness and childlike innocence. Her honeyed voice shines in “A Very Nice Man”, “Mira” and “Love Makes the World Go Round” while Ryan Drummond with a strong singing voice makes the most of Paul’s tortured contemplations.  His voice has perfect resonance in “Everybody Likes You” and “Her Face”   Bill Olson has an entertaining swagger as the dashing magician Marco the Magnificent who amazes Lili with some corniest of tricks. His voice is powerful singing “Sword, Rose and Cape” and “Always, Always you” Even Dyan McBride as Rosalie Marco’s assistant and Michael Doppe as Paul’s faithful assistant are excellent in their roles. Both have vibrant voices singing Bob Merrill’s songs.

Stephen Vaught gives a good performance as the owner of the European carnival while Rudy Guerrero as the strong man performs very well in the small role.  Katherine Cooper, Adrienne Herro, Katherine Leyva, Brieanne Martin, Jordan Plutzer, Nathaniel Rothrock and Kyle Stoner are effective as members of the carnival.

Overall this production is wonderful and a nice reminder of what a charming and touching musical that is. “Carnival” runs through April 21 at the Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco.  For tickets call 415-255-8207 or on line at www.42ndstmoon.org.   Coming up next is Jason Graae in Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh “Little Me”. It opens on May 1st and run through May 19th.

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