This is my least favorite of all the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. That’s a dissenting opinion, I realize, as it is beloved by many, very much including Richard Rodgers, who named it as his favorite. Sorry, Rich, I love your other stuff, including the music from Victory at Sea. To my ear the music in Carousel is mostly no more than adequate, though there are a couple good songs. But my basic problem is my continuing dislike of Billy Bigelow. That he’s a congenital loser I could probably live with, but it’s his perpetual whining about it, his blaming the world for his lousy luck, that makes me wish he would just die. And presto! He does! And comes back. Even then, when he is trying to be better, he doesn’t convince me.
Upon viewing it again, many years after the first time, there is yet another issue with the play. Julie sings “What’s the Use of Wond’drin’?” which says you should stick by your man no matter what he does, whether it’s good or bad. I don’t think those lyrics would go down very well with today’s audiences. The play is frequently performed all over the country. I wonder if they change the lyrics?