Director Jo Davies does a consummate job in taming the mammoth epic that is this legend of Broadway and the West End.
Yet, far from shrinking the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical to fit the stage of The Grand, Opera North have clearly lavished all their genius and energies on the piece – to unprecedented effect.
The set and costume designer Anthony Ward produces a backdrop which is sublime – one moment we are open-mouthed at a carousel which suddenly appears then disappears just as quickly, the next moment we’re transported straight to heaven.
Special credit has to go to lighting and video designers Bruno Poet and Andrzej Goulding respectively, who are the glue which hold this phenomenal production together. Their special talents are absolutely crucial, providing a base on which to launch yet more spectacle.
This Carousel is packed with colour, movement, dance and drama and you can practically smell the salty air of America’s north Atlantic coastline.
Set in New England, Billy Bigelow, played by a crowd-seducing Eric Greene, is a bad boy who’s easily led astray and quick to lash out at his wife, Julie Jordan, played by the enchanting Gillene Herbert. When he dies following a failed robbery attempt, Bill ascends to heaven but later returns to help his 15-year-old daughter.
Just try and fight back the tears by the time the curtain comes down, particularly when you’re hit by You’ll Never Walk Alone, sung perfectly by Elena Ferrari and later by the whole chorus.
Interestingly, this anthem doesn’t stick out, so huge is the rest of the show that it just slots in there without need for fanfare.
When Ferenc Molnar, creator of the play Liliom on which Carousel was based, first came to see Rodgers and Hammerstein’s reinvention, they were said to be on tenterhooks. And as the curtain this week went up on Opera North’s huge undertaking they no doubt felt the same. But it turned out that neither the composers, nor Opera North had anything to worry about
To May 19, Leeds Grand Theatre, New Briggate, 7.30pm, mats 2pm and 4pm, £17.50 to £65. Tel: 0844 8482700. www.leedsgrandtheatre.com.