The story itself is a classic. I went to Rodgers & Hammerstein’s CAROUSEL knowing what to expect and then, the opening number. The choreography went on for a long time, beautiful, detailed, exquisite… long. I glanced at my watch… 8 minutes. There was something different about this; and then I remembered. I held my playbill to the light from the edge of my seat – yes, Justin Peck, making his Broadway debut as a Choreographer. This explained what I was seeing.
Peck, making his Broadway debut, is not new to the stage in New York City. At Resident Choreographer of the New York City Ballet, he has created over 30 new works here, as well as in Paris, San Francisco, and Miami just to name a few. He was the subject of the documentary Ballet 422 in 2014, and has received the Bessie Award for Outstanding Production. The stage is his playground, and we were invited to visit.
But Peck created the movement for a vocal trio that could bring down the house; any house.
Joshua Henry: from Shuffle Along, In the Heights, and the tour of Hamilton.
Jessie Mueller: The current Belle of Broadway with her recent hits in Beautiful and The Waitress.
Renee Flemming: An internationally acclaimed soprano, winner of four Grammy awards.
Honestly Renee’s Role as Nettie Fowler did not showcase her vocal prowess for most of the show, and then it did… In Act 2 Scene 2 when she sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone” she gives a performance that brings down.
There are moments in Carousel that move slowly, but that is the way this story is written. Outside of the beautiful dance and outstanding vocals, my pleasant surprise of the evening came from Amar Ramasar, also making his Broadway debut as Jigger Craigin. Like Peck, it is the Broadway stage that is new to him – as the Ballet has been his home. I imagine we will see him again on the Great white way, his acting performance rivaled his dance.