Jack O’Brien’s Revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel Opened to Mixed to Positive Reviews, Starring Renée Fleming, Joshua Henry, and Jessie Mueller.

Jack O’Brien Directs Rodgers and Hammerstein Classic

On April 12, 2018, Carousel opened at the Imperial Theatre, where it had been running in previews since February 28. This Rodgers and Hammerstein classic first premiered on Broadway in 1945; subsequent Broadway productions included 1949, 1954, 1957, and 1994. 24 years later, it is well due time for another revival, and the challenge was taken up by producers Roy Furman and Scott Rudin, in a production directed by Jack O’Brien (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Front Page, It’s Only a Play).

In this production, the cast is led by Renée Fleming (Living on Love), the magnificent opera star whose accolades include four Grammys and the National Medal of Arts. Other lead parts are played by Joshua Henry (Porgy and Bess), Jessie Mueller (Waitress, Beautiful: the Carole King Musical), Margaret Colin (The Columnist, Arcadia), Alexander Gemignani (Violet, The People in the Picture), and Lindsay Mendez (Significant Other, Godspell).

Mixed to Positive Reviews from the Major Critics

The New York Times called the production a “heartfelt, half-terrific revival” and also “probing,” as it “takes the liberty of beginning not on the grounds of a carnival in Maine, as is customary, but in heaven, where destinies are foreseen.” Variety was more won over, calling Joshua Henry’s performance “electrifying,” praising his “voice that while warm and mellow, can also soar with joy and tremble in despair.” She also praises the show itself, which contains “some of the musical theater’s most beautiful and enduring songs.”

Deadline called the production “marvelous,” enjoying O’Brien’s skillful direction, Justin Peck’s “balletic choreography,” and Santo Loquasto’s “dreamlike design.” Entertainment Weekly believes Carousel is not timeless like some musicals, declaring decisively that “the story is Just. Plain. Bad.” NY1 was also on the fence, stating that the production could never match the performance of Audra McDonald from the last revival.

Box Office is Good But Not Great

In the last week of reported box office figures, the week ending April 8, 2018, Carousel brought in a weekly gross of $1,190,735, which represents 73.38% of its gross potential. This is the best box office week the show has had thus far, as the previous week brought in $1,070,265, or 65.95% of its gross potential, and the week before that had a weekly gross of $1,075,699, or 66.29% of its gross potential. To date, the show has brought in an average of 67.04% of its gross potential.

This is certainly not bad for the revival of an arguably dated musical with stars of musical theatre and opera but not the silver screen. Nevertheless, the box office does have room for growth, and awards season will certainly have an impact on the longevity of this musical revival, which has not yet announced its closing date.