Review: Media’s ‘Carousel’ is visually stunning

By Christina Perryman
Media Theatre is currently staging Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s classic musical, “Carousel,” with a top notch cast, stellar set and high energy. “Carousel,” music by Richard Rodgers and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, is excellently directed by Media’s Artistic Director, Jesse Cline. The show, rumored to be Rodgers favorite of their musicals, focuses on the romance of Billy Bigelow, a carousel barker, and Julie Jordan, a millworker, in 1873 Maine.
Julie and her friend, Carrie, visit the carousel and Julie is entranced by Billy. Billy’s boss, Mrs. Mullin (good performance by Susan Mattson), chases Julie away, however, Julie is even more struck by Billy when he defends the girl, losing his job in the process. Carrie urges Julie to return to her to the boarding house where the millworkers lives, but Julie stays with her beau, losing her own job in the process. Julie and Billy eventually marry but Billy, frustrated with being out of work and living off Julie’s relatives, begins to act up. He strikes up a friendship with Jigger, a low life ship worker. Things culminate when a desperate Billy agrees to a get rich quick scheme with Jigger — they plot to rob a wealthy man. The robbery takes a not so surprising turn that leads to a shocking plot twist. Media’s cast is outstanding. The music is catchy, nicely directed by Ben Kapilow. The singers were quite impressive. Dann Dunn’s choreography was fully of energy and spirit.

Carl N. Smith as Jigger

Joseph Spieldenner is fantastic as Billy Bigelow. During the first act, the character doesn’t have many redeeming qualities, yet Spieldenner is charming and charismatic. Maxwell Porterfield is endearing as Julie. She has a beautiful voice and innocent, trusting demeanor. Carl Smith is terrific as Jigger. Typically, I’m seen Smith in very clean cut, well mannered roles. His portrayal of Jigger as a down and dirty scoundrel was spot on.
I particularly enjoyed Madalyn St. John as Carrie. St. John is a captivating singer and her character often steals the scenes with her energy and spirit. Brenda Briglia, who plays Louise, dances like an angel. Elisa Matthews (Nettie), George Slotin (Mr. Snow), Jim Conte (Starkeeper) and Kelly Briggs (Mr. Bascomb) all have noteworthy performances. Carnival Boy Willem Geunther and Briglia dance a pretty duet.
Carol Sorensen’s costumes were time period appropriate and well chosen. The set, designed by Matthew Miller, featured beautiful art work that captured life at that time period and helped transport the audience to 1873. A fog machine is used during the show.

“Carousel” runs at Media Theatre, 104 E. State Street, Media, through Oct. 22. Premium seat tickets are $50 for adults, $40 for seniors and $30 for children. Non-premium seating is $42 for adults, $35 for seniors and $25 for children. Show times are 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays and 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. For full details, visit www.mediatheatre.org or call 610-891-0100.