Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel, based on a story
by Ferenc Molnar, takes place between 1873 and 1888 in a small
New England fishing village. The tale revolves around a love
affair between Billy Bigelow, a travelling carnival man, and
Julie Jordan, a local factory worker. Desperate for money after
learning that he is soon to become a father, Billy is killed
during an attempted robbery. Several years later, when he is
allowed to return to earth for a short time, he seeks out the
daughter of his union with Julie.
Carousel reunited the creative team that had brought
Oklahoma! to the stage two years earlier, including director
Robert Mamoulian and choreographer Agnes de Mille. The show opened
at the Majestic Theatre on April 19, 1945 and proved to be a
resounding success. The NEW YORK DAILY MIRROR wrote:
"(Carousel is) beautiful, bountiful, beguiling...it
is the product of taste, imagination and skill."
The production ran for 890 performances and went on to win
the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for "Best Musical"
of 1945 and 8 Donaldson Awards including Best Musical, Book,
Lyrics and Score. The 1994 Broadway revival won its share of
awards as well, boasting 5 Tony Awards including Best Musical
Revival, and in 1999, TIME MAGAZINE voted Carousel "Best
Musical of the Century!" The 1956 film version featured
Gordon McRae and Shirley Jones.