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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Wednesday, February 10

Carousel at ABT

Well, they did it again. Arizona Broadway Theatre, that is. Found a way to improve even more in their musical productions. This time, with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. I’ve seen this show four times now, the film version in 1956 with the young, beautiful Shirley Jones as Julie Jordan and Gordon MacRae as Billy Bigelow, a local production in Jamestown, New York, and once quite a few years ago here at ABT. And none of them was as good as this one. In the opening orchestral "Carousel Waltz," five carousel horses were brought onstage, separately wheeled and revolved by carnie workers, Julie Jordan and other girls astride the horses. Where in the world did they get five full-blown merry-go-round horses? The sets were inventive and perfectly suited to the rather small ABT stage, with clouds and a blue sea in the background, a cluster of lighted stars above, the masts of four ships supporting strings of lights, a series of variously raised platforms for stage entry and exit, and two houses for separate locations. The choreography was exceptional, especially in the long ballet sequence near the end of Act II. The costumes were surprising in their diversity. The voices were great, especially the two female leads, Julie (Jeannie Shubitz) and Carrie Pipperidge (Jill-Christine Wiley). The two male leads, Billy Bigelow (Michael O’Brien) and Jigger Craigin (Brad Rupp), were good but not as good as the females. Carousel, like West Side Story, has a rather dark element with the death of the male leads, and Carousel may become too dated in the future. Billy at one point has struck Julie when they argued. Townspeople say he beat her regularly. When Billy returns to earth to see his daughter Louise, he grabs her arm roughly and strikes her hand. Julie consoles Louise by telling her that sometimes a loved one might strike the other but that the blow isn’t felt. Well, we’re now living in a time when domestic violence should not and will not be tolerated, and women being abused must not consider it natural or unpainful just because the abuser still loves them. Nonsense. On a lighter note, in Billy’s long soliloquy about the birth of his son or daughter, he mentions all the snooty people who look down on him and his presumed son “through a lorgnette.” Then he sings, “Hey, wait a minute! My kid ain’t even been born yet!” A clever, funny rhyme, Mister Hammerstein. But nearly everyone in a modern audience would have no idea what a “lorgnette” is, or was. And most children today have never ridden on a carousel or even know what one is. But the music is still great, especially “If I Loved You” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” (How does one not tear up at hearing this song of inspiration?) Arizona Broadway Theatre deserves to be called the best regional theatre company in Arizona. I can’t see that any other theatres in the state could do it any better.
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