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Preview: Carousel at the Barbican

11:21 10 August 2012

Carousel performed by Opera North at The Grand Theatre, Leeds Pic: Alastair Muir

Carousel performed by Opera North at The Grand Theatre, Leeds Pic: Alastair Muir

©ALASTAIR MUIR CONTACT alastair@alastairmuir.com

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s famous musical opens on Wednesday

»Most football fans will have heard Liverpool supporters passionately singing the Gerry and the Pacemakers’ hit, You’ll Never Walk Alone, on the terraces.

But what many won’t know is that the song, rather than being the Merseybeat classic they imagine, actually originated on the stage.

It’s the product of Broadway heavyweights Rodgers and Hammerstein’s second musical Carousel and was sung by the likes of Judy Garland and Doris Day before being discovered by Scousers.

First staged in 1945, Carousel tells the story of true love and unspoken romance between Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow, set against the backdrop of a small US seaside town.

Despite being a follow-up to the pair’s world-wide debut Oklahoma! they avoided “second single syndrome” and Carousel was an instant smash, often cited as the best musical of the 20th century.

Now a fresh vision of the classic by acclaimed Yorkshire company Opera North is to hit the Barbican for a five week run – an all-singing, all-dancing production with a 30-piece band, 14-strong chorus and award-winning set and costume designers.

Renowned opera singer and Islington resident Sarah Tynan has joined the cast as the production comes to her hometown.

“I play Carrie, who is in love with Mr Snow and their relationship provides a bit of light relief from that of Julie and Billy.

“She is fiesty, quirky and desperately in love. She is just about to get married and talks about how wonderful it is.

“She’s brilliant to play and it’s great fun working on such a classic musical.

“It’s been in the theatre repertoire for a long time, it’s full of laughs but also has a serious side. I think it’s the perfect balance of words and music.”

Opera North’s production of Carousel enjoyed a great reception in Leeds and Salford and transfers to Paris in 2013.

Sarah is just performing for the London leg – so how have rehearsals been?

“It’s all going really well,” she said. “It’s great fun and I am enjoying every minute. All the cast are lovely and it’s a good way to spend your days.

“The good thing about this production is that we are doing a mixture of opera, music theatre and dance. We are all working together like one big family and getting the best of all three disciplines.”

As an Islington girl who performs all over the world, Sarah says she is pleased to be on a stage in her area. “I live near Packington Street, and it’s a nice community. Lots of my friends and neighbours say they will come to watch.

“It’s really good to be so close to home – when you’re working away you miss your family and friends.’’

Carousel opens at the Barbican in Silk Street, EC2, on Wednesday. For tickets, which start at £12.50, call 020 7638 8891 or visit www.barbican.org.uk.

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