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Carousel - best recording? 
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Post Carousel Recordings
My favourite Carousel recording is the 1994 Broadway Revival Recording. What is really fantastic about this recording is that there is such a fantastic balance between acting and singing. The cast have enough voice to serve the material but also communicate the stakes of what's going on dramatically in the score and in the show as a whole. The "Carousel Waltz" is played so beautifully on this recording, so things get off to a great start. Michel Hayden really forces you to engage with Billy and the journey of his character. Sally Murphy sings to your heart and completely gets the arc of the character from "If I Loved You" through "What's the Use of Wond'rin'". One of the highlights of the recording is Audra MacDonald's Carrie, an interpretation that really reveals her versatility as both an actress and a vocalist. She is perfectly matched by Eddie Korbich - their rendition of "When the Children are Asleep" is unmatched.

The Original Broadway Cast Recording is great, preserving the original cast performances and providing enough of the score so that one gets a fairly good idea of the show. Yes, some songs are shortened (like "If I Loved You") but the only song that gets left out completely is "Geraniums in the Winder". The other cut material is mostly reprises and dance music. The cast are all good singers. Raitt's baritone rounds out the songs nicely, Jan Clayton gives a moving reading of Julie's songs and Murvyn Vye is fun as Jigger.

The Soundtrack of the misguided and disappointing film version of the show gives a better impression of the film than it deserves. Still, it's far too polished; the overall sound of the bigger orchestrations is far too generic Hollywood. Gordon Macrae and Shirley Jones, while delivering highly listenable covers of the songs, are a bit too light in the central roles and there's not enough contrast in terms of vocal characterisation between the leads. Logically enough, this makes Barbara Ruick and Robert Rounseville stand out to a greater extent - and of course this means that the balance in the cast is somewhat off-kilter. In terms of completeness, there is more material here than on the OBCR - the ballet music is included but "Geraniums in the Winder" and "The Highest Judge of All", which were cut from the film, are not.

I'm afraid I can't agree with Salome and Melindaisy about the 1987 Studio Cast Recording. Although almost complete, cutting only the Act 2 ballet music, there's a bit too much tiptoeing around the roles for everything to settle completely. Samuel Ramey's singing of Billy is impressive but he doesn't get the character to move through the material in terms of characterisation. To a lesser extent, the same is true of Barbara Cook - and I really adore her work elsewhere. The problem with this album can be summed up in that it's a studio recording - an excellent studio recording and far more successful than most - but it never really catches alight in the way Carousel should.

I also don't own the 1993 London Recording, but remember enjoying Joanna Riding's Julie when I listened to it. Of course, there are many other recordings of the show (some not yet available on CD) and its material, but I think these recordings represent the main players of a show that provides an truly emotional experience when seen live in the theatre.

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Sat Sep 06, 2008 1:03 am
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I like the 1994 as well, and I'm rather inclined to a rougher Billy with a less "beautiful" voice.

Not to say that I'm all that partial to Mandy Patinkin's "Soliloquy," though. For him it should be called "Billy's All-Out Nervous Breakdown."

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Sat Sep 06, 2008 8:15 am
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Quote:
For him it should be called "Billy's All-Out Nervous Breakdown."



LOL!!! Yes!!!!!

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Thu Oct 02, 2008 10:15 pm
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1994 Broadway. It's a dream. Simply a dream!! :)


Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:27 am
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Carousel is one of the most brilliant shows ever but there have been so many lousy recordings of it!!!


My favorite recording by far is the original cast recording. John Raitt is and always will be the ultimate Billy Bigelow and has never sounded better than on here. The recording also contains memorable performances by Jan Clayton and Jean Darling.


The 1965 Lincoln Center revival recording is decent. John Raitt is great, of course. Eileen Christy is alright as his Julie. Jerry Orbach is wonderful as Jigger.


The 1994 revival cast sucks. Everyone in the cast was miscast, except for Shirley Verrett and Sally Murphy. Michael Hayden couldn't sing at all!! And of course one might say that it is okay as long as he can act. But the thing is his characterization of Billy wasn't interesting, either. Too studied and boring. Not to mention completely lacking in sex appeal. And as talented as Audra McDonald is, she was sooooo wrong for Carrie. She has NO SPUNK.


The London revival recording isn't good, either. What is it with people casting actors who can't sing in Carousel?!?! It just doesn't work at all!! This is Rodgers & Hammerstein, for Chrissake. You have to be able to do more than carry a tune.


And as for the 1987 recording... A 55-year-old Barbara Cook singing Julie Jordan like a little old lady, paired with Sarah Brightman? That makes it bad automatically.



The movie soundtrack isn't too bad. The entire cast is excellent, except for Barbara Ruick who is bland as Carrie, and Gordon MacRae, who has a beautiful voice but lacks the depth as an actor to capture Billy's emotional journey. Shirley Jones is hands down the best Julie ever. She was so real and achieved the arc of the character beautifully. I was so moved by her in the last few scenes. (Lovely voice, too!) She without a doubt gives the strongest performance in the film.


Sat Sep 12, 2009 5:51 pm
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Silverweed wrote:
And as for the 1987 recording... A 55-year-old Barbara Cook singing Julie Jordan like a little old lady, paired with Sarah Brightman? That makes it bad automatically.

Shirley Jones is hands down the best Julie ever.


Yeah, when I was surfing iTunes and found the Cook-Brightman recording, I was like, "Okay, Sarah Brightman is playing Carrie, so that's not going to blow over well...and when was this recording made?" *checks year* "Wait, how old is Barbara Cook? This can't be good..."

I disagree about Shirley Jones though. I wasn't fond of her Julie at all...the Carousel film isn't as good as it could've been, due to her and McRae's lackluster performances. Jigger was pretty good though.

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Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:10 pm
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I agree that McRae was lackluster. But I adore Shirley Jones. Underneath the innocence you can really sense an internal srength that drives her. Oscar Hammerstein really liked her too.

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Salome wrote:
Collins wasnt an actress..luckily she fell into a role that she was wonderful in. she did it brillaintly. but it was her only good role.


Not to go too off-topic, but what other roles did she play?

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Post What?
Salome wrote:


Collins wasnt an actress..luckily she fell into a role that she was wonderful in. she did it brillaintly. but it was her only good role.


Hi, I am Dorothy Collins youngest daughter, Melissa, and I have to say my dear, you are VERY wrong! My mother WAS an actress. When she was not performing on Your Hit Parade in the 50's, she was performing in theatre and continued to do so until she retired in 1980.

My sisters and I would go on tour with her when we were little. She was wonderful as Nellie Forbush in South Pacific ( a role she played opposite my father Ron Holgate), Maria in Sound of Music, Dolly in Hello Dolly, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz ( with Margaret Hamilton as the Witch), Julie in Carousel, Fiona in Brigadoon, Eliza in My Fair Lady, Desiree in A Little Night Music (with both Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince there to see her opening night!), Lead female role(s) in Apple Tree, Molly in Unsinkable Molly Brown, Annie in Annie Get Your Gun , Bea in Ballroom (touring company) and this is just a drop in the bucket!

Follies may have been the only show she performed on B'way, but by no means, was she a novice to the theatre.


Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:04 pm
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Silverweed wrote:
Carousel is one of the most brilliant shows ever but there have been so many lousy recordings of it!!!

My favorite recording by far is the original cast recording. John Raitt is and always will be the ultimate Billy Bigelow and has never sounded better than on here. The recording also contains memorable performances by Jan Clayton and Jean Darling.

The 1965 Lincoln Center revival recording is decent. John Raitt is great, of course. Eileen Christy is alright as his Julie. Jerry Orbach is wonderful as Jigger.

The 1994 revival cast sucks. Everyone in the cast was miscast, except for Shirley Verrett and Sally Murphy. Michael Hayden couldn't sing at all!! And of course one might say that it is okay as long as he can act. But the thing is his characterization of Billy wasn't interesting, either. Too studied and boring. Not to mention completely lacking in sex appeal. And as talented as Audra McDonald is, she was sooooo wrong for Carrie. She has NO SPUNK.

The London revival recording isn't good, either. What is it with people casting actors who can't sing in Carousel?!?! It just doesn't work at all!! This is Rodgers & Hammerstein, for Chrissake. You have to be able to do more than carry a tune.

And as for the 1987 recording... A 55-year-old Barbara Cook singing Julie Jordan like a little old lady, paired with Sarah Brightman? That makes it bad automatically.

^ Agree with every word of this.

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Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:01 am
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Post 
Quote:
Cook is a ---- legend! she is one of the few we have left.

Collins wasnt an actress..luckily she fell into a role that she was wonderful in. she did it brillaintly. but it was her only good role.

unlike Alexis SMith,John McMartin and Gene Nelson.

Nelson is still Sondheim's favorite perofrmer in ANY of his


Yeah, Barbara Cook is brilliant and the greatest interpreter of American Popular Song we'll ever see.
Dorothy, however, is equally brilliant and, IMHO, a better, more tragic Sally than Cook.
And it's McMartin who is the Sondheim favorite, not Gene Nelson, though I haven't heard anything bad about him either.


Fri Jan 29, 2010 6:26 pm
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