Round in Circles by Barry Kester
Round In Circles: The Story of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel is intended not only for those who share the author’s love of the ‘Golden Age’ Broadway musicals, but also for students of the genre who want to learn about the trials and tribulations encountered in producing a musical at that time when Rodgers and Hammerstein were transforming such shows into the unique American art form we continue to enjoy today.
The book covers the history of the classic musical from its beginning as Liliom, a 1909 play by Hungarian author Ferenc Molnár, to its latest 2021 London revival.
At first, Rodgers and Hammerstein dismissed the idea of turning Liliom into a musical. How they were persuaded to change their minds, and the struggles the duo experienced in adapting the dark, fantastical play is a key part of the story told by author, Barry Kester. But the book also shines the spotlight onto Rodgers and Hammerstein themselves, looking at their lives, their working methods, and their relationship, which was not always as harmonious as one might have thought.
Although Carousel was created by Rodgers and Hammerstein, it would not have happened without the help of some extraordinary people, both backstage and onstage and the book pays due tribute to them all.
Many of Carousel’s songs have become well-loved standards, none more so than You’ll Never Walk Alone and not just because of its association with football. A chapter is devoted to this remarkable anthem.
Carousel’s story did not end with its 1945 Broadway opening. After an initial London run and a nationwide tour of the United States, there was a film version. The author relates the many problems that were encountered on that production.
The book examines what many would agree to be the finest production of Carousel to date, staged at the National Theatre in 1992 directed by Nicholas Hytner and concludes with a look at some of the more recent revivals and the show’s place in the musical theatre canon today.
Barry Kester lives in London and has loved musical theatre all his life. After retirement in 2010, he set out to write a detailed history of his favourite musical. Round in Circles: The Story of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel is his first book.