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The recent staging of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Carousel in Concert” proved The Barn Stage Company’s ability to provide the highest quality of live performances worthy of discriminating audiences. Together with the Temecula Valley Symphony, J Scott Lapp’s actors presented the classic seaside musical with iconic songs like “If I Loved You” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” with a storyline that moved between light-hearted to gritty.
Old Town Temecula Community Theater’s stage was set with the 32-piece orchestra directed by John Mario Di Costanzo, which added a rich fullness to the musical experience. Named by “Time Magazine” as the best musical of the twentieth century, its haunting melodies underscored the story of disgraced carnival barker Billy Bigelow played by Ciarán McCarthy and a townie, Julie Jordan, performed by Heather Lundstedt O’Neill. McCarthy’s outstanding vocals and acting chops alongside O’Neill’s equally mesmerizing portrayal brought their stormy love story to life. The secondary storyline between Carrie Pipperidge, played with zest and vocal precision by Emily Lopez and her beau, Enoch Webb by another talent, Jason Webb, contrasted the lovers’ sad journey.
The ensemble players rounded out the cast, and of the many highlights not to be missed was the celebrated style of award-winning choreographer Gary Iversen. His ballet sequence during “Down Here on a Beach,” expertly danced by Miranda Rose and Jonathon Sharp was intricate, surreal, and other-wordly, leading to the climax of the story. Vonetta Mixson’s Nettie Fowler was another memorable moment as she delivered “June is Bustin’ Out All Over” with depth and warmth that made her character a favorite.
Sharing the stage with an orchestra has challenges, but Matthew Herman’s simple set design and Zach Simon’s lighting suggesting the wharf setting were the right touch. A particularly stirring moment was a clever use of spotlights on the theater walls to subtly foretell looming tragedy.
J Scott Lapp, with assistant director Tyler Poe and Executive Director, Jordan Beck, presented a stunning evening that brought the audience to a standing ovation. By combining local actors with professionals from regions beyond, the Barn Stage Company once again proved their ability to produce entertainment with production value and talent that’s truly “bustin’ out all over.”