Warsaw Federal Incline Theater Takes The Audience on a Ride with “Carousel”

Review by Kat Reynolds

This reviewer has something to confess: I’ve never seen Carousel. In fact, the only thing I could have told you about it was that the film version featured Shirley Jones–and that information came from remembering the cover of a childhood friend’s VHS tape. Warsaw Federal Incline Theater closes its 2022 Summer Classics Season with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s second musical, said to be Richard Rodgers’ favorite of all.

The story revolves around a carousel barker by the name of Billy Bigelow (Jeremiah Plessinger) whose sudden romance with millworker Julie Jordan (Lauren Everett) causes trouble from beginning to end. Director Dee Anne Bryll’s sizable cast is replete with swings and understudies, a very smart choice during a pandemic. Both the performers’ inherent vocal talent and Music Director Ryan Heinrich’s guidance provide the audience with some lovely renditions of songs many of us know such as “If I Loved You,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and the one that elicited a giggle out of me: “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over.” (If you wish to share in my amusement, I highly suggest Googling Leslie Uggams’ famous live performance of this song.)

An outstanding job is done by Katie McCarthy in the role of Carrie Pipperidge. Ms. McCarthy balances her solid vocals with an enthusiastic and relatable performance of a likable character, reminding everyone she needs to be seen on stages around the city far more often. Also giving a note-worthy performance is Dan Cohen as Jigger Craigin. His choices in verbal articulation and physicality are enjoyable and convincing. And finally, this review would be incomplete without a nod to Jeremiah Plessinger as Billy Bigelow. Mr. Plessinger, as per usual, gives us a rock-solid interpretation of the character with whom many will find it difficult to sympathize. 

Jeremiah Plessinger as Billy Bigelow and Lauren Everett as Julie Jordan in Incline’s “Carousel.”

Given some of its controversial themes, “Carousel” can certainly be seen as problematic. Some will see it as a love story; some will see it as advocating mistreatment/abuse. As a first-time spectator, I did not find myself rooting for either of the two main characters and that lack of investment possibly left me a little impassive. However, the show has proven itself to be a “classic” and is therefore a fitting show with which to close this summer series. In the immortal words of Stacy Keach: “There is only one thing a musical play must have: it must have music. And there is only one thing that it has to be: it has to be good.” This show clearly has music; now it’s up to YOU to head over to The Incline to see if it fulfills the second requirement.

“Carousel” runs through September 11th. To purchase tickets, call the Box Office at (513) 241-6550 or CLICK HERE

Katrina “Kat” Reynolds is a local performing artist and directress. She serves as the copy editor for Rob Bucher’s Behind The Curtain Cincinnati. Her company, Harley Quinn Studios, produces old-timey radio show content and provides the place “where the voices in your head come to play”.