(Above) Music director Simone Wiebe conducting Brittney Boehmer (as Julie Jordan) in a Carousel rehearsal. (Descending from below) Jennifer Adams (Carrie Pipperidge) and Devan Coward (Jigger Craigin); Louise Lansing (Nettie Fowler); Brian Lawrence (Billy Bigelow); members of the ensemble.

Footlighters’ Creston production of Carousel celebrating musical’s 70th anniversary

Web Lead

  • Apr. 9, 2015 8:00 a.m.

Seventy years (less a day or two) after Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s Carousel opened on Broadway, Creston’s Footlighters Theatre Society will conclude its 20th season by presenting the popular musical at Prince Charles Theatre.

Featuring a pair of romances and a string of familiar numbers, the production directed by Frank Goodsir, who penned and directed December’s sold-out Cinderella, promises to be another hit for the community theatre group.

“It’s a show whose passion grabs you, I would say,” said music director Simone Wiebe. “It’s the kind of music that the more you listen to it, the more you love it.”

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. The Footlighters schedule originally called for Beauty and the Beast but a decision was made late in 2014 to delay its presentation until 2017. In its place, the second Rodgers and Hammerstein collaboration, a follow-up to the pair’s spectacular success of Oklahoma! two years earlier, was scheduled. (Footlighters has previously produced the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals The King and I, South Pacific and The Sound of Music.)

Wiebe, a music teacher who has had starring roles in past productions, had her work cut out for her in theCarousel rehearsals. She had to co-ordinate the efforts of lead and secondary characters, a chorus and an eight-member band (two flutes, two trumpets, euphonium, tuba, trombone and piano). The cast alone has 30 singers.

The musical pairs carnival barker Billy Bigelow (played by assistant director Brian Lawrence) and millworker Julie Jordan (Brittney Boehmer), and another millworker, Carrie Pipperidge (Jennifer Adams), and fisherman Enoch Snow (Jesse Morton) have plenty of stage time.

But Carousel is not a light and fluffy musical, Wiebe said.

“It covers some pretty heavy subjects — domestic abuse, suicide, overcoming one’s heritage.”

Carousel is really about breaking negative cycles,” Lawrence said. “Redemption is a huge theme.”

A big theme needs more than light music to accompany it.

“It’s a hard score with some crazy signatures,” Wiebe said. “And some numbers are pantomimed to the music, which is kind of new to our group.”

In an effort to keep the audience focused on the characters and story, the set has been kept deliberately simple, with an attempt to present the idea of locations and settings. There are no backdrops or walls and no pieces permanently onstage.

Simplicity does not mean lack of effort, though. Great effort was made to acquire authentic carousel horses, even though they are on stage for only a few minutes.

“They aren’t on for long but they are vital to set the story,” Wiebe said.

Lawrence said the chorus includes 10 children.

“That’s the fun of community theatre,” he said. “Choruses can be enlarged to give more people the opportunity to be involved.”

Wiebe’s sister, Brittany Boehmer, will be a new face on the Creston theatre scene.

“And Paula Carpenter has never had a big part before,” Wiebe said. “It’s nice to see people thinking, ‘Hey, I can do that!’ “

Wiebe said the musical numbers that stand out for her are “Blow High, Blow Low”, sung by a group of sailors, and “June Is Busting Out All Over”.

“But they are all good,” she said.

“And I’m always humming ‘When the Children Are Asleep’ after hearing Jesse and Jennifer sing it,” said Lawrence.

As well, Carousel includes “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, “If I Loved You” — considered by musical theatre buffs to be one of the best integrations of dialogue, music and lyrics — and “Soliloquy”, a lengthy introspective piece.

Carousel is different from what you usually expect from Rodgers and Hammerstein,” Lawrence said. “The music isn’t as light and simple as the pieces in The Sound of Music, for instance. But there is wonderful humour to balance the serious dramatic sequences. It has given our cast a chance to do something different and unusual.”

Since the first rehearsal in January, three rehearsals a week have kept the volunteer performers busy. Smaller side rehearsals in members’ homes have been common and the backstage crew has put in countless hours to make the production beautiful and functional.

“It’s really nice to have a mixture of experienced people and really new performers who are willing to step outside their comfort zone,” said Lawrence.

Carousel, the final production of Footlighters’ 20th season, runs at 7:30 p.m. April 16-18 (doors open at 7) at Prince Charles Theatre. Tickets are available at Kingfisher Used Books, Black Bear Books and Creative Fix.

Just Posted

Genelle ‘vehicle incident’ under RCMP investigation

Regional firefighters respond to car fire Sunday night

Nelson commits to 100% renewables by 2050

This makes Nelson the sixth city in Canada to join the worldwide initiative

Health Canada consumer alert

Flintstones Plus Iron multivitamins for children: One bottle found to contain unidentified capsules instead of chewable tablets

As in most of the Kootenay Columbia region, Creston property values have increased

Most Creston property owners will by now have received their 2018 property assessment notices in the mail.

Funding increase helps KCCS anti-violence efforts

Community organizations working to prevent and respond to violence against women and… Continue reading

B.C. boy denied $19,000-per-month drug to ease ‘crippling pain’ for 3rd time

Sooke mom Jillian Lanthier says son Landen Alexa has been forgotten about by Premier John Horgan

Senior randomly stabbed in B.C. mall food court

Woman arrested after victim, 71, suffers serious injuries

B.C. Liberal hopefuls begin final leadership push

Five MLAs, one outsider pitch policies to party members

UPDATED: ‘Young, innocent’ teen hit during Vancouver shootout dies

15-year-old Coquitlam boy was in a car driving by the scene

Ontario man charged with selling Canadian’s usernames and passwords

Ontario man ran site that peddled billions of pieces of personal data: RCMP

Video: B.C. documentary features Okanagan ice climbing

First documentary for Penticton filmmaker captures elusive Okanagan ice climbing

David Emerson quits lumber talks as legal action begins

Former federal minister served as B.C. softwood trade point man

Singer of the Cranberries dead at 46

Her publicist says Dolores O’Riordan died suddenly Monday in London. The cause of death wasn’t immediately available.

Toronto police say young girl made up story about hijab cutting

The investigation has been closed after 11-year-old girl claimed her hijab was cut by a scissors-wielding man

Most Read