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Light and shade in Carousel 
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Tony Winner
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Post Light and shade in Carousel
Many people think that Carousel is a profoundly moving R&H score, but I realse that perhaps it has a little bit more light than you think.
It's good that Carousel deals with spousal abuse, sex, violence and suicide, but somehow or other I don't see any profoundly moving songs in the score, other than You'll Never Walk Alone and If I Loved You. The songs for Carrie and Mr. Snow seem lighter and happier, and I can hardly consider them affecting. There also seems to be a light-hearted mood in the Real Nice Clambake and in the biting sarcasm of Stonecutters Cut It On Stone.
I hope I'm not ruffling people's feathers here, as something struck my mind about this serious R&H musical. It reminded me of something that Dvarg said about R&H some time back, and it might be interesting to discuss it further.


Last edited by Yip1982 on Thu Jan 10, 2008 5:57 am, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Jan 01, 2008 10:10 pm
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Uhm, I'm not sure what you mean.

I don't think sad = profound, happy = shallow...?

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Wed Jan 02, 2008 9:29 am
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Tony Winner
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I'm terribly sorry Dvarg. I was inspired to create this thread after reading a remark you wrote in July 2007 about how the score of Carousel sounded happy when this musical was supposed to be sad in its dealings with serious issues.


Wed Jan 02, 2008 5:48 pm
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Soliloquy isn't moving?


Wed Jan 02, 2008 6:06 pm
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Tony Winner
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[quote="Pannic"]Soliloquy isn't moving?[/quote]

I'm sorry I forgot to factor it into my discussion, even though I knew it was one of the most moving sequences in the whole musical. But I meant to say that even with the gravitas of the Soliloquy, If I Loved You and You'll Never Walk Alone, the music seemed to have a little more light than shade. I fear I'm ill-qualified to write about the script as I haven't read it. I guess it would have things that can't be seen in the songs.


Wed Jan 02, 2008 6:58 pm
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Post Re: Light and Shade in CAROUSEL
Yip1982 wrote:
Many people think that Carousel is a profoundly moving R&H score... (with) more light (than shade).... It's good that Carousel deals with spousal abuse, sex, violence and suicide, but somehow or other I don't see any profoundly moving songs in the score, other than "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "If I Loved You".... There also seems to be a light-hearted mood... in the biting sarcasm of "Stonecutters Cut It On Stone".

I think that there is a great deal of both light and shade in the opening "Carousel Waltz". In fact, it's the darker sections of that piece of music that make it so profoundly moving. "Soliloquy", as others have mentioned, is also moving and deals with not only Billy's anticipation of parenthood, but also his feeling of inadequacy. "Stonecutters Cut it on Stone" might seem light because of it's tone, but it's a telling piece of writing and it's the perfect lead-in and contrast to "What's the Use of Wond'rin'", a song that hasn't been mentioned in this thread, which deals directly with the theme of spousal abuse in the score itself. I think Carousel has its own (minor) problems, but I don't think that an imbalance of light and shade in the score is one of them.

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Thu May 13, 2010 8:36 pm
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Post Re: Light and Shade in CAROUSEL
RainbowJude wrote:
"Stonecutters Cut it on Stone" might seem light because of it's tone, but it's a telling piece of writing and it's the perfect lead-in and contrast to "What's the Use of Wond'rin'", a song that hasn't been mentioned in this thread, which deals directly with the theme of spousal abuse in the score itself.


I still have as problem with this song.

I have let me convince the song is written as completely irony, as on the surface what it does is to celebrate or excuse spouse abuse and domestic violence. As mentioned, I accept that the subtext says this is a lie.

But still this subtext is a very difficult thing to get through. On cd, which admittedly only offers part of the context, it sounds gleeful and misleads the listened. In the film (which is the only version I actually have seen), everybody looks totally happy and confident that it's literally absolutely no use of wondering if he is good or bad.

I assume it's the way they're directed, but it nevertheless shows how fragile the number is.

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Sun May 16, 2010 1:10 am
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I wouldn't say that "What's the Use of Wondrin'" excuses spousal abuse, it just explains Julies feelings on the subject.

Julie is saying that both Carrie and Her have chosen the men that they love and want to marry and that they have to struggle on through the bad times (the argument with Jigger and Enoch for Carrie, and the abuse for julie) because they are in love with their men.

On the surface the song seems to be Julie comforting Carrie whereas alot of Julie's thoughts are reflective on her own relationship with Billy, and how she deep down knows that Billy loves her and doesn't want to hurt her, so because of that she has to hold on to their relationship throughout the hard times in Billy's life.

As a general not about Carousel, I personally think it is one of the most moving musicals of it's time and definitely isn't light and fluffy. All the lighthearted character songs (Stonecutters, Geraniums.. etc) although comical have serious undertones in the plotline and so do the fun ensemble numbers. Such as, "June" showing the blossoming of sexual relations amongst the characters and "Clambake" looking back reflectively on the same themes, both songs being flooded with extremely intentional innuendo. It's definitely not a lightweight score.

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Sun May 16, 2010 2:07 am
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wtfchuck wrote:
I wouldn't say that "What's the Use of Wondrin'" excuses spousal abuse, it just explains Julies feelings on the subject.


"Just" explaining it, combined with that lovely tune makes it appear as a defence. My theory is that it takes a great knowledge on Hammerstein's general ethics not to interpret the song that way. Especially based on how it is presented in the movie.

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Sun May 16, 2010 2:41 am
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