The Carousel Music Theater's talented cast brought home a delightful evening for its opening night audience July 23. The central theme of “Thank God, I'm A Country Boy” was love – havin' it, losin' it, wanting it, finding it and keepin' it. The show, written by theater owner (and Carousel alum) Robb Barnard, featured songs from the 1960s and 1970s.
The cast warmed up the audience during the Nat King Cole cabaret, during which they served up soup, sandwiches and desserts. This is a venue unlike any other in the Boothbay region: the audience and cast get to know each other. By the end of the night, everyone feels like old friends.
The Cole cabaret, like all cabarets, had audience members singing along quietly and nodding their heads in time with the music. Musical director Paolo Perez is perhaps the most animated accompanist the Carousel has had. Perez clearly loves music and is a skilled pianist.
Cole favorites were performed as solos, duets, trios and by the ensemble. This is a cast of lovely voices that harmonize beautifully. “When I Fall in Love,” “Young At Heart,” “Route 66,” and “Red Sails in the Sunset,” were some of the selections.
The show takes place at the Speckled Armadillo Diner in Texas. Teresa Morrison as Annabelle, narrator and waitress at the diner. Annabelle thought she had found her man, but alas...
Maggie Wakim is Candi (think 'Daisy Duke'), Annabelle's sister and the other waitress at the diner. Candi is concerned that her beau, since the eighth grade mind you, lacks ambition and drive. How can they marry when all he does is fish, pump gas, and change a flat tire now and again?
Carissa McCurdy is Magnolia, the reluctant owner of the diner (think Dolly Parton with a fondness for gowns a la Ginger from “Gilligan's Island.”). When a tall drink of wealthy water walks into her diner – Magnolia is up for the chase.
Grant Jacoby portrays Big Tex, that aforementioned tall drink o' water, a man out of his element in the small town his car breaks down in. Tex, not his real name – you'll have to go to the show to find that out – has a big heart and big eyes for Magnolia.
Scott Mulligan is Randee (that's right, that's 'd' double 'e'), Candi's gas pumping mechanic boyfriend who just can't hep it if he is perfectly happy with his job, fishin' and Candi. Why should he have to change now?
“Country Roads” becomes a sing-a-long with the audience and “Achy Breaky Heart” has Annabelle going out into the audience for two “volunteers” to learn the dance steps with the cast.
The show ends with Rascal Flatt's “Bless the Broken Road,” (“God bless the broken road that led me straight to you.”)
The standing ovation led to a sing-a-long reprise of John Denver's “Country Road” with everyone singing, clapping and doing a bit of foot-stompin. I do believe I saw some people doing a bit of dancing!
The 2013 cast at the Carousel is a blend of semi-seasoned performers and recent musical theater grads whose talents are undeniable. The stand out for me in this show is Morrison, the only alto female. Her comic timing is spot on and her stage presence is undeniable. Sopranos Wakim and McCurdy have lovely voices and appear to be having fun embracing their roles. Jacoby has some of the greatest facial expressions in both the cabaret and the show – that he uses liberally during his performances. This is a man who can't help but have presence – he must be 6'4”! Mulligan is charming as the simple, likeable Randee.
There's one more performance that must be noted and that's Barnard's “Sara Lee,” sung while the cast members are trading in their waitron clothing for costumes. It is Barnard's “signature song” if you will, sung at every show (just ask his casts and musical directors). But, it is a performance of sheer perfection that moves the audience into and absolute hysteria! The jingle goes, “Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee;” in this case, nobody doesn't like Barnard singing about “Sara Lee.”
Does Magnolia ride off into the sunset with Big Tex? (Providing Randee can actually fix the car.)
Will Candi reconcile herself to the fact that her man will never be anything other than who he is?
And what of Annabelle? Will she find love? And if she does, who in tarnation is left to find it with?
If you're looking for a unique evening of food, song and original musical theater, there's only one place in the Boothbay region to go. This show runs through August 18. Tickets for dinner and the show are $36. For reservations and more information call 207-633-5297. Or, stop by the Carousel Music Theater, the big red barn on Townsend Avenue/Route 27, just before (or after) the Flagship Inn.