The musical Carousel, with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, premiered in 1945. The show won acclaim for its many hit musical numbers and for its innovative plot about the ill-fated marriage of young millworker Julie Jordan and carnival barker Billy Bigelow.
Christopher Wheeldon’s salute to Rodgers includes the composer’s melodic and evocative “Carousel Waltz” and “If I Loved You” in a reverie that distills Carousel’s carnival atmosphere as well as its theme of tragic romance. A large corps de ballet creates a stylized carousel on stage, their movements often separating the lovers. With a simple hint at the story, Wheeldon catches the sweep and emotion of the music and the poignant, doomed nature of the lead couple’s relationship with a tender and romantic pas de deux.