Carousel (musical)

From Academic Kids

Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1945 stage musical Carousel adapted Ferenc Molnar's play Liliom to 1870s New England.


Plot Synopsis

Act I

Two young millworkers in freshly industrialized 1870s New England visit the town's carousel after work. One of them--demure Julie Jordan--shares a lingering glance and suggestive touch with the carousel's barker, Billy Bigelow. (song: Carousel Waltz)

Julie's friend Carrie Pipperidge presses her for information, but Julie is reticent about the encounter. (song: You're a Queer One, Julie Jordan) Eventually satisfied, Carrie confides that she has a beau of her own: local fisherman Enoch Snow (song: Mister Snow).

A policeman appears and warns the women that Billy has taken money from other women. Carrie goes off, but Julie stays. She and Billy, now alone, can talk freely, but neither can quite confess the growing attraction they feel for each other. (song: If I Loved You)

Despite the incommunicative start, Julie and Billy are married shortly thereafter. When we next see them, Julie is confiding to Carrie that Billy, now unemployed, is unstable and occasionally violent. Carrie has news, too--she and Mr. Snow are officially engaged (song: Mister Snow reprise) and looking forward to their idealized notion of married life (song: When The Children Are Asleep) As they and the town's other young folk prepare to attend a clambake, spitfire Carrie pokes fun at the local boys, cheered on by the local girls (song: Give It To 'Em Good, Carrie). Julie's cousin Nettie Fowler leads them all in a celebration of spring (song: June Is Bustin' Out All Over) before they leave for the clambake.

Meanwhile, Billy has fallen in with the unsavory sailor Jigger (song: Blow High, Blow Low), who tries to recruit him to help with a robbery. Billy is initually uninterested--but then Julie tells him of her pregnancy. Overwhelmed by the news, and determined to provide for his future child, he decides to be Jigger's accomplice after all (song: Soliloquy).

Act II

After the clambake (song: That Was A Real Nice Clambake), the townsfolk head back to town. Carrie's fiance walks in on some innocent flirting between Carrie and Jigger, and declares, as Jigger jeers, that he is finished with her (song: Geraniums In The Window/Stonecutters Cut It On Stone). Julie, meanwhile, places her self-doubt aside and resolves to accept and love Billy as he is (song: What's The Use Of Wondrin'?).

Jigger and Billy play at cards, with the stakes being shares of the forecasted robbery spoils. Soon Billy has lost his entire stake in the robbery; the robbery is aborted; and Jigger escapes while Billy is caught. Distraught, Billy kills himself--Julie arrives too late to save him.

Nettie and the townsfolk comfort Julie (song: You'll Never Walk Alone), and we follow Billy to heaven. There, a pair of blunt-spoken angels explain that he must attempt to solve the problems he left behind (song: The Highest Judge Of All). They send him back down to earth, fifteen years after his suicide.

His and Julie's daughter, Louise, is now an angry and rebellious teen (song: Ballet: Pas de Deux). He manages to give her a small gift, and finally confess his love to Julie (song: If I Loved You reprise). Having thus made amends, he is there for her high-school graduation (song: You'll Never Walk Alone reprise) and wins entry to Heaven.


Both Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II said that Carousel was the favorite of their works together. They broke new ground in musical theater storytelling with their extended music/dialogue scenes, such as "If I Loved You" and, hauntingly, the "Soliloquy" (where Billy imagines his future child). The final anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" has taken on a life of its own; a graduation standard, it is also customarily sung by fans at English football matches, especially those of Liverpool F.C.

A 1956 movie version starred Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae. This movie also had an appearance by a young Cheryl Holdridge, who would later gain fame on the Mickey Mouse Club.

Musical Numbers


Prologue. An Amusement Park on the New England Coast

  • The Carousel Waltz

Scene One. A Tree-lined Path Along the Shore

  • You're a Queer One, Julie Jordan
  • Mister Snow
  • If I Loved You

Scene Two. Nettie Fowler's Spa on the Ocean Front

  • June Is Bustin' Out All Over
  • Mister Snow (reprise)
  • When the Children Are Asleep
  • Blow High, Blow Low
  • The Whalers' Hornpipe
  • Soliloquy
  • Act One Finale
  • Entr'acte

Scene One. On an Island Across the Bay

  • A Real Nice Clambake
  • Geraniums in the Winder
  • A Man Who Thinks He's Good
  • What's the Use of Wond'rin'?

Scene Two. Mainland Waterfront

  • You'll Never Walk Alone

Scene Three. Up There in Heaven

  • The Highest Judge of All

Scene Four. Down Here on a Beach

  • Ballet: Billy Makes a Journey

Scene Five. Outside Julie's Cottage

  • If I Loved You (reprise)

Scene Six. Outside the Schoolhouse

  • Finale: You'll Never Walk Alone (reprise)
  • Exit Music

See Also: List of movies - List of actors - List of directors - List of documentaries - List of Hollywood movie studios

ja:回転木馬 (ミュージカル)


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