Monday, April 4, 2016

Serenbe Playhouse Re-imagines "Carousel"

Serenbe Playhouse has brought more than a re-imagined 1945 Rodgers & Hammerstein's musical play to sold out audiences, it's staging Carousel AND a full, participatory country fair...all outdoors!

This was my first Serenbe Playhouse performance—definitely not my last—and the third Serenbe Playhouse performance my friend and co-theater-goer Nikki had attended—certainly not her last, either.  


Carousel | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Carousel | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Carousel reunites many of Serenbe Playhouse's 2014 Oklahoma! cast members including Kelly Martin as Julie Jordan, Edward McCreary as Billy Bigelow, Jessica Miesel as Carrie, Austin Tijerina as Jigger, Lala Cochran as Mrs. Mullins and Starkeeper, Ally Duncan as Nettie, Brittany Ellis as Louise, Nathan Lubeck as Carnival Boy...and many other incredibly talented actors—this show has a large cast!

It wax exciting to see some of my favorite Atlanta actors in the show—Lala Cochran, Edward McCreary and Austin Tijerina—each of whom I've seen in other shows over the last couple of years.

Lala plays a more serious character from what I've seen her play before and acts unrequited love emotional and heartfelt; Edward plays a wholly conflicted character and is as sexy as ever; and Austin plays a zero-morals-bad-guy all too convincingly, but still a favorite character. I'm constantly blown away by the magnitude of talent we have in the Atlanta area! 


Carousel | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Carousel | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Others whose performances I've enjoyed previously include lead actress Kelly Chapin Martin (Julie Jordan), who plays mutual love interest—and more—to "Barker" Billy Bigelow; and Daniel Burns (Enoch Snow) who plays the love interest of Julie's best friend, Carrie.

I refuse to pick favorites from this cast—they're all stellar—but I will share that I thoroughly enjoyed the singing talents of Kelly Chapin Martin and Jessica Miesel (Carrie), who sing quite differently, but are strong and harmonious, wholly delightful on the ear...I could listen to both with "replay song" on for weeks! 


Carousel | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Carousel | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Arrive early! One hour before the show, for your like-a-kid enjoyment there's a country fair, with a 47-foot Ferris wheel and a 16-seat carousel, both of which are this musical's backdrop, along with tent lights and the evening stars. The few planes flying over, which I didn't even hear, were likened to shooting stars. 

Also at the fair are games, cotton candy and other goodies, a high-striker (Show off your strength, if you can lift the giant mallet!) a full bar and turn-of-the-century carnival characters, from the show, interacting with guests!  


Carousel | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Carousel | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

If you've never been to Serenbe Playhouse, I encourage you to know what you're getting into, in addition to theatrical splendor, that is.

All of Serenbe Playhouse's shows are outdoors, rain or shine, and they're site specific, and at some of the shows you even walk within the site! Be sure to familiarize yourself with each show's specific details, and give yourself plenty to time to find the site of the show you're attending. [10 Things to Know]


Carousel | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Carousel | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

The music at Carousel is performed live, from just behind the carousel! I'd seen Carousel many, many, many years ago, and recognized almost every song from the second act. You too probably know more Rodgers & Hammerstein's music than you realize, but when was the last time you saw any of it performed at a live country fair?

While I've written here about the acting, singing and setting, the story is quite a remarkable one. It was Rodgers & Hammerstein's second musical play. Some elements speak to another time, some are timeless, all are touching.

Oh, and you get to partake in the country fair's offerings again during the generous intermission! It's a full evening, and I think you're going to enjoy every minute of it!


Carousel | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Carousel | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

I've been to the Serenbe community near Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia—not too far outside of Atlanta—many times, primarily for Les Dames d'Escoffier International-Atlanta Chapter's annual "Afternoon in the Country" event. I'm grateful to Serenbe Playhouse for treating me to my first Serenbe performing arts event!

I don't have to predict how spectacularly this Carousel run will do...the many sold-out performances speak for themselves. But if you need a push or nudge toward whether or not to go, I say to first get your tickets—well before the show closes on April 10—then check out their Facebook page for some production photos and other fun content. 

Then...get yourself to the fair AND see one of the best shows of the season!

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