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Carousel


Musique: Richard Rodgers
Paroles: Oscar Hamerstein II
Livret: Oscar Hamerstein II

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Carousel is the second stage musical by the team of Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (book and lyrics).
Following the spectacular success of the first Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Oklahoma! (1943), the pair sought to collaborate on another piece, knowing that any resulting work would be compared with Oklahoma!, most likely unfavorably. They were initially reluctant to seek the rights to Liliom; Molnár had refused permission for the work to be adapted in the past, and the original ending was considered too depressing for the musical theatre. After acquiring the rights, the team created a work with lengthy sequences of music and made the ending more hopeful.

Acte I
Two young female millworkers in 1873 Maine visit the town's carousel after work. One of them, Julie Jordan, attracts the attention of the barker, Billy Bigelow The Carousel Waltz. When Julie lets Billy put his arm around her during the ride, Mrs. Mullin, the widowed owner of the carousel, tells Julie never to return. Julie and her friend, Carrie Pipperidge, argue with Mrs. Mullin. Billy arrives and, seeing that Mrs. Mullin is jealous, mocks her and is fired from his job. Billy, unconcerned, invites Julie to join him for a beer. As he goes to get his belongings, Carrie presses Julie for her feelings toward him, but Julie is evasive You're a Queer One, Julie Jordan. Carrie has a beau too, fisherman Enoch Snow Mister Snow. Billy returns for Julie as the departing Carrie warns that staying out late means the loss of Julie's job. Mr. Bascombe, owner of the mill, happens by and warns Julie that Billy has taken money from other women. Bascombe offers to take Julie home, but she refuses and is fired. Left alone, she and Billy talk about what life might be like if they were in love, but neither quite confesses the growing attraction they feel for each other If I Loved You.
A month passes, and preparations for the summer clambake are under way June Is Bustin' Out All Over. Julie and Billy, now married, live at Julie's cousin Nettie's spa. Julie confides in Carrie that Billy, frustrated over being unemployed, has been beating Julie. Carrie has happier news—she is engaged to Enoch, who promptly arrives. Billy enters with his ne'er-do-well whaler friend, Jigger. The former barker is openly rude to Enoch and Julie. He leaves with Jigger, followed by a distraught Julie. Enoch tells Carrie that he expects to become rich selling herring and to have a large family with Carrie When the Children Are Asleep.
Jigger and his shipmates sing about life on the sea Blow High, Blow Low. The whaler tries to recruit Billy to help with a robbery, but Billy declines, as the victim—Julie's former boss, Mr. Bascombe—might have to be killed. Mrs. Mullin tries to tempt Billy back to the carousel (and to her). He would have to abandon Julie; no married barker can match the sexual tension of an unmarried one. Billy reluctantly mulls it over as Julie arrives and Mrs. Mullin leaves. Julie tells him she is pregnant. Billy is overwhelmed with happiness by the news, ending all thoughts of returning to the carousel. Billy, now alone on stage, imagines the fun he will have with Bill Jr.—until he realizes that child might be a girl, and "you've got to be a father to a girl" Soliloquy. Determined to provide financially for his future child, Billy decides to be Jigger's accomplice.
The whole town leaves for the clambake. Billy agrees to join in, as he realizes that being seen at the clambake is integral to his and Jigger's alibi. Julie is delighted that he will accompany her Act I Finale.

Acte II
Everyone reminisces about the huge meal and much fun This Was a Real Nice Clambake. Jigger tries to seduce Carrie. Enoch walks in at the wrong moment, seeing Carrie in Jigger's arms, and declares that he is finished with her Geraniums In the Winder, as Jigger jeers There's Nothin' So Bad for a Woman. The girls try to comfort Carrie, saying all men are bad. For Julie, however, all that matters is that "he's your feller and you love him" What's the Use of Wond'rin'?. Julie sees Billy trying to sneak away with Jigger and, trying to stop him, she feels the knife hidden in his shirt. She begs him to give it to her, but he refuses and leaves to commit the robbery.
As they wait, Jigger and Billy gamble with cards. They stake their shares of the anticipated robbery spoils. Billy loses: his participation is now pointless. Unknown to Billy and Jigger, Mr. Bascombe, the intended victim, has already deposited the mill's money. The robbery fails: Bascombe pulls a gun on Billy while Jigger escapes. Billy stabs himself with his knife; Julie arrives just in time for him to say his last words to her and die. Julie strokes his hair, finally able to tell him that she loved him. Carrie and Enoch, reunited by the crisis, attempt to console Julie; Nettie arrives and gives Julie the resolve to keep going despite her despair You'll Never Walk Alone.
Billy's defiant spirit The Highest Judge of All is taken Up There to see the Starkeeper, a heavenly official. The Starkeeper tells Billy that the good he did in life was not enough to get into heaven, but so long as there is a person alive who remembers him, he can return for a day to do good to redeem himself. He informs Billy that fifteen years have now passed on Earth since the former barker's suicide, and suggests that Billy can get himself into heaven if he does something to help his daughter, Louise. He helps Billy look down from heaven to see her (instrumental ballet: "Billy Makes a Journey. Louise has grown up to be lonely and bitter. The local children ostracize her because her father was a thief and a wife-beater. In the dance, a young ruffian, much like her father at that age, flirts with her and abandons her as too young. The dance concludes, and Billy decides to return to Earth to help his daughter. He steals a star to take with him, as the Starkeeper pretends not to notice.
Outside Julie's cottage, Carrie describes her visit to New York with the now-wealthy Enoch. Carrie's husband and their many children enter to fetch her—the family must get ready for the high school graduation later that day. Enoch Jr., the oldest son, remains behind to talk with Louise, as Billy and the Heavenly Friend escorting him enter, invisible to the other characters. Louise confides in Enoch Jr. That she plans to run away from home with an acting troupe. He says that he will stop her by marrying her, but that his father will think her an unsuitable match. Louise is outraged: each insults the other's father, and Louise orders Enoch Jr. To go away. Billy, able to make himself visible at will, reveals himself to the sobbing Louise; he pretends to be a friend of her father. He offers her a gift—the star he stole from heaven. She refuses it and, frustrated, he slaps her. As he makes himself invisible, Louise tells Julie what happened, stating that the slap miraculously felt like a kiss, not a blow—and Julie understands her perfectly.
Billy invisibly attends Louise's graduation, hoping for one last chance to help his daughter and redeem himself. The beloved town physician, Dr. Seldon (who resembles the Starkeeper) advises the graduating class not to rely on their parents' success or be held back by their failure (words directed at Louise). Seldon prompts everyone to sing an old song, "You'll Never Walk Alone". Billy, still invisible, whispers to Louise, telling her to believe Seldon's words, and when she tentatively reaches out to another girl, she learns she does not have to be an outcast. Billy goes to Julie, telling her at last that he loved her. As his widow and daughter join in the singing, Billy is taken to his heavenly reward.

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