This musical is way, way, way darker than I remember. When I was six, I thought anything starring Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae was spectacular. In hindsight, I’m starting to question my judgment, because this musical is not only SUPER sad, it also has ZERO redeeming characters. Long story short, Julie (Shirley) and Billy (Gordon) fall in love at an amusement park where Billy is the Carousel barker. (FYI, that’s probably why it’s called “Carousel.”) He’s schemey, unmotivated and totally unfaithful. And this is evident from the first scene! Julie has no personality and no traits that I can describe other than the fact that for some reason she’s really into Billy. And she has a weird friend named Carrie. Two one-dimensional women in one film.
Once they get married, Billy starts beating Julie! I was so surprised– I totally don’t
remember that part from previous viewings. It was really disturbing to watch something where people are singing happy/bright songs one moment, and being awful to one another the next. Musicals that are light and airy are the wrong venue to tackle abuse. There’s not enough validity or weight given to the horribleness of the act. It was weird, and still makes me uncomfortable.
Anyway, then Billy dies, and goes to heaven. I’m not ruining anything because you learn that in the first scene! His job is to clean stars, and release them out into the sky, which I think is a very nice way to think about heaven. So, there’s that positive. Other than that…man, was I disappointed. I only liked one song, “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over.” It’s really catchy (couldn’t fall asleep last night), and the dancing is a mixture of ballet and acrobatics. Interestingly enough, both Billy and Julie are absent from the scene. They should have made a musical about those other people instead!
I think “State Fair” will be a happier one. Mainly, because I know there are tons of side characters, so if the central couple starts bothering me, I can skip around.
Also, I liked this dress.