Wednesday, June 3, 2020

June is Bustin’ Out All Over—Murfin Home Confinement Music Festival 2020

June is Bustin' Out All Over from the movie Carousel.

Was there ever a month greeted so exuberantly as this one in Richard Rodgers’s and Oscar Hammerstein II 1945 Broadway musical Carousel with June is Bustin’ Out All Over?
As a follow up to the enormous success of their 1943 breakthrough Oklahoma! the duo wanted to mount another musical with a distinctively American setting but they turned to a nearly 40 year old European modernist theater classic as their inspiration.  Ferenc Molnár’s 1909 play Liliom, was transplanted from its Budapest setting to a Maine coastal village and mill town.  The original play might today have been classified as magical realism with a tough guy carnival roustabout dispatched from heaven to help the daughter he fathered on an innocent young woman.  Despite the magical elements, the play was often dark with the seduction of the girl, his physical abuse of her, a crime, and his death. 
It is quite possible that the musical could not be mounted as a new work on Broadway today with a male lead abuser sympathetically portrayed.  And a famous scene where the now teen-age daughter feels his slap and is told by her mother that it could be a sign of love would probably never make it to the stage.
The original 1945 Broadway poster fir Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel.
Carousel opened on Broadway on April 19, 1945 with John Raitt as Billy Bigelow and Jan Clayton (future mom on TV’s Lassie) as Julie. While not as big a smash hit as Oklahoma! the musical became an oft revived staple of American theater.  Broadway revivals included 1954 and 1957 productions by the New York City Center Light Opera Company. Both times, the production featured Barbara Cook, though she played Carrie in 1954 and Julie in 1957, with Howard Keel as Billy.  A 1992 London East End revival came to Broadway in 1995 with Michael Hayden as Billy, Sally Murphy as Julie, and Audra McDonald as Carrie, a Tony winning best supporting actress role.  In 2019 Jessie Mueller was Julie, Joshua Henry was Billy, and opera diva Renée Fleming was Carrie.
The 1956 movie poster for Carousel.
Most of us are most familiar with the 1956 20th Century Fox wide screen film adaptation starring Gordon MacCrae as Billy and Shirley Jones as Julie.  June is Bustin’ Out All Over featured Claramae Turner as Cousin Nettie Fowler, Barbara Ruick as Carrie and a large ensemble.  The number seamlessly introduced the June Is Bustin' Out All Over Ballet.

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