Betsy Morgan and Nicholas Rodriguez Star in Carousel, Beginning Tonight at Arena Stage
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater presents Carousel, directed by Artistic Director Molly Smith, with music by Richard Rodgers and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
Named the best musical of the 20th century by Time magazine, Carousel follows Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan through their journey of love, loss and redemption and soars with unforgettable songs including "If I Loved You," "June Is Bustin' Out All Over" and "You'll Never Walk Alone."
Featuring Musical Direction by Paul Sportelli and Choreography by Parker Esse, Carousel runs tonight, October 28, through December 24 in the iconic in-the-round Fichandler Stage.
"Carousel is Rodgers and Hammerstein's most glorious and lush score with a wild and dramatically beautiful story on the coast of Maine," says Smith. "Full of rich and complex characters, it asks the question: Do we each deserve a second chance?"
"I am sure Molly Smith will find a way to present this classic that both honors the words and music, and give today's audiences a contemporary view into the drama of the show," shares Ted Chapin, President of Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagem Company. "She did that brilliantly with Oklahoma! and I am sure she'll do it again with Carousel."
Smith has assembled a 27-member cast boasting 18 local performers. Carousel stars the previously announced audience favorites Nicholas Rodriguez (Arena's My Fair Lady, Oklahoma!) as Billy Bigelow, E. Faye Butler (Arena's Pullman Porter Blues, Oklahoma!) as Mrs. Mullin and Ann Arvia (Golde in Arena's Fiddler on the Roof) as Nettie Fowler. Betsy Morgan (Broadway's The King and I, LES MISERABLES) makes her Arena Stage debut as Julie Jordan, alongside the previously announced Kate Rockwell (Broadway's Rock of Ages, Bring It On: The Musical, Legally Blonde) portraying Julie's pal Carrie Pipperidge.
Carousel also features the return of Arena Stage veterans Kurt Boehm (Arena's Born for This, Fyedka in Fiddler on the Roof) as Enoch Snow and Kyle Schliefer (Arena's Oliver!, Fiddler on the Roof) as Jigger Craigin, and welcomes the debut of Skye Mattox (Broadway's West Side Story, On The Town) as Louise Bigelow.
The large cast also includes Jacob Beasley as Enoch Snow, Jr., Rayanne Gonzales as Mrs. Bascombe, Michael Graceffa as Carnival Boy, Thomas Adrian Simpson as David Bascombe and Stephawn Stephens as Captain. In the roles of the Starkeeper and Heavenly Friend, the company features two young local actors-13-year-old Nicole Wildy of Howard County, Maryland and 15-year-old Joshua Otten of Fauquier County, Virginia.
Rounding out the ensemble are Gracie Jones, Danielle Sue Jordan, Ethan Kasnett, Emma Sophie Moore, Tony Neidenbach (dance captain), Bridget Riley, Paul Scanlan, Jessica Wu and Phil Young, with swings Katie Arthur and Jay Westin and Heavenly Friend/Starkeeper u/s Isabella Brody.
Smith reunites with many of her creative collaborators for Carousel including Music Director Sportelli, who has created new arrangements for the 13-piece orchestra that will be seen on a visible, elevated level of the set, designed by Tony Award-winning Set Designer Todd Rosenthal. Choreographer Esse will create his signature athletic ensemble sequences paired with graceful ballets, and David Leong returns for Fight Choreography & Mime, along with Lighting Designer Keith Parham, Costume Designer Ilona Somogyi and Sound Designers Joshua Horvath and Ray Nardelli.
Richard Rodgers (Music) & Oscar Hammerstein II (Book & Lyrics) joined forces to create the most successful partnership in musical theater. Rodgers first collaborated with Lorenz Hart on On Your Toes, Babes in Arms, The Boys from Syracuse, I Married an Angel and Pal Joey. Hammerstein collaborated with Rudolf Friml, Sigmund Romberg, Vincent Youmans and Jerome Kern on The Desert Song, Rose-Marie, The New Moon and Show Boat. Oklahoma! was the first R&H musical, followed by Carousel, Allegro, South Pacific, The King and I, Me and Juliet, Pipe Dream, Flower Drum Song and The Sound of Music. R&H wrote one musical for film, State Fair, and one for TV, Cinderella. Collectively, their musicals earned two Pulitzer Prizes and 35 Tony, 15 Oscar, two Grammy and two Emmy awards. After Hammerstein's death, Rodgers continued to write, producing No Strings, Do I Hear a Waltz?, Two by Two, Rex and I Remember Mama. In 1990, Broadway's 46th St. Theater was renamed in Rodgers' honor.
Molly Smith (Director) has served as Artistic Director of Arena Stage since 1998. Her directing credits include Oliver!, The Originalist, Fiddler on the Roof, Camp David, Mother Courage and Her Children, Oklahoma!, A Moon for the Misbegotten, My Fair Lady, The Great White Hope, The Music Man, Orpheus Descending, Legacy of Light, The Women of Brewster Place, Cabaret, An American Daughter, South Pacific, Agamemnon and His Daughters, Coyote Builds North America, All My Sons and How I Learned to Drive at Arena Stage. Her directorial work has also been seen at The Old Globe, Asolo Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, Trinity Repertory, Canada's Shaw Festival, Toronto's Tarragon Theatre, Montreal's Centaur Theatre and Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska, which she founded and ran from 1979-1998. Molly has been a leader in new play development for over 30 years. She is a great believer in first, second and thiRD Productions of new work and has championed projects including How I Learned to Drive; Passion Play, a cycle; and Next to Normal. She has worked alongside playwrights Sarah Ruhl, Paula Vogel, Wendy Wasserstein, Lawrence Wright, Karen Zacarias, John Murrell, Eric Coble, Charles Randolph-Wright and many others. She led the re-invention of Arena Stage, focusing on the architecture and creation of the Mead Center for American Theater and positioning Arena Stage as a national center for American artists. During her time with the company, Arena Stage has workshopped more than 100 productions, produced 37 world premieres, staged numerous second and thiRD Productions and been an important part of nurturing eight projects that went on to have a life on Broadway. In 2014, Molly made her Broadway debut directing The Velocity of Autumn, following its critically acclaimed run at Arena Stage. She was awarded honorary doctorates from American University and Towson University.
ABOUT THE CAST
Ann Arvia (Nettie Fowler) was last seen at Arena Stage as Golde in Fiddler on the Roof. Washington audiences also saw her in LES MISERABLES (National Theatre). On Broadway, she played the iconic Bird Woman in Mary Poppins, Madame Thenardier in LES MISERABLES and appeared in Beauty and the Beast. Off-Broadway saw her in the New York premiere of Time and Again (Manhattan Theatre Club). She also toured extensively in both LES MISERABLES and Ragtime. Regional credits include Meg in Damn Yankees and Marie in The Most Happy Fella (Goodspeed) and Mrs. Paroo in The Music Man (Cape Playhouse). Ann will kick off 2017 with the Off-Broadway premiere of the new Kander/Pierce musical Kid Victory. www.annarvia.net
Kurt Boehm (Enoch Snow) most recently appeared in Born for This at ALLIANCE THEATRE and Arena Stage. Previous Arena credits include Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma! and She Loves Me. Additional D.C. credits include West Side Story, Cabaret, LES MISERABLES and Kiss of the Spider Woman (Signature Theatre); A Chorus Line, Godspell, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and The Producers (Olney Theatre Center); Little Shop of Horrors (Ford's Theatre); The Full Monty (Keegan Theatre); The Last Five Years (Red Branch Theatre); and The Phantom Tollbooth and Latino Inaugural Gala honoring Chita Rivera and Rita Moreno (Kennedy Center). He holds a B.M. from Catholic University. Kurt sends his love and gratitude to Molly, Parker and Paul for this opportunity.
E. Faye Butler (Mrs. Mullin)'s Arena Stage credits include King Hedley II, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Pullman Porter Blues, Trouble in Mind, Oklahoma!, Crowns, Ain't Misbehavin', Polk County and Dinah Was. Recent credits include An Issue of Blood (Victory Gardens), Vanya and Sonia... (Goodman), Ghost (Fulton Theatre/Main State Music Theatre), Follies (St. Louis Repertory) and Hairspray (Paramount). Additional credits with the Kennedy Center, Signature Theatre, Center Stage, La Jolla, Court Theatre, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Marriott, Dallas Theater Center, Northlight, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Yale Repertory and Pasadena Playhouse. She received the 2016 Guy Adkins Award and Rosetta LeNoir Award and was a 2012 Lunt-Fontanne Fellow. Additional awards include Jeff, Black Theater Alliance, Helen Hayes, After Dark, John Barrymore, RAMI, Excellence in the Arts, Ovation, Sarah Siddons Society Leading Lady, Kathryn V. Lamkey and Black Excellence Awards.
Skye Mattox (Louise Bigelow/Ensemble) is thrilled to make her Arena Stage debut. She began her career when she moved to NYC at age 17. Her Broadway credits include West Side Story and On the Town, where she understudied the lead role of Ivy Smith. Other New York credits include American Dance Machine and numerous shows for New York City Center's Encores! series, including Little Me and Do I Hear a Waltz? She can also be seen on the second season of NBC's hit TV series Smash as a recurring cast member. In addition to performing, Skye is also passionate about teaching. She has been on the faculty for Broadway Dreams Foundation and does guest teaching for various performing arts studios and schools. Instagram: @skye_mattox.
Betsy Morgan (Julie Jordan) originated the roles of Tricia Nixon and Susan Ford in Michael John LaChiusa's First Daughter Suite at The Public this past year and can be heard on the original cast recording. Also with LaChiusa, she originated the roles of Louisa in Rain and Leslie in Giant. She was a member of the original Broadway companies of The King and I (2015 revival), LES MISERABLES (2014 revival), A Little Night Music (2009 revival), The Little Mermaid and High Fidelity and the Off-Broadway companies of Found (Atlantic Theater Company), The Fantasticks (2006 revival) and Bernarda Alba (Lincoln Center). Betsy recreated the role of Fantine in the 25th anniversary tour of LES MISERABLES. She was seen on TV in Flight of the Conchords.
Kate Rockwell (Carrie Pipperidge) makes her Arena Stage debut. Broadway credits include Skylar in Bring It On: The Musical (original cast), Margot in Legally Blonde, Sherrie in Rock of Ages and Hair. She has travelled the country in three first national tours and performed regionally at The Muny, La Jolla Playhouse, ALLIANCE THEATRE, North Shore Music Theatre and others. Spot her on camera in Deadbeat and Sex and the City (film). Her solo show, Back To My Roots, debuted in New York in 2015. Represented by KMR and proud AEA member. Follow her on Twitter & Instagram: @KateRockwellNYC.
Nicholas Rodriguez (Billy Bigelow)'s Arena Stage credits include Destiny of Desire, Oklahoma! (Helen Hayes Award), Mother Courage and Her Children, My Fair Lady (Helen Hayes nomination), The Light in the Piazza and The Power of Two. Broadway's Tarzan, Off-Broadway's The Toxic Avenger, Almost Heaven, Death for Five Voices, Bajour, Colette Collage, Guys and Dolls (Carnegie Hall) and I Am Harvey Milk (Lincoln Center). Additionally, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita and Hair (national tours), The Ten Commandments, Mothers and Sons, LES MISERABLES (B. Iden Payne Award), Love!Valour!Compassion!, Master Class, Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, Wizard of Oz, Buddy Holly Story, Damn Yankees, Cinderella, South Pacific and The King and I. Screen credits: Sex and the City 2, Madam Secretary and One Life to Live (GLAAD Award). His debut album "The First Time..." is available on iTunes. www.thenickrod.com
Kyle Schliefer (Jigger Craigin/Ensemble)'s Arena Stage credits include Oliver! (Noah Claypole), Fiddler on the Roof (Sasha) and A House of Glass (Kip Kiernan). D.C. credits include A Chorus Line (Olney Theatre Center, Helen Hayes nomination), Lost in Yonkers (Theater J), The Member of the Wedding (Ford's Theatre), Arcadia (Folger Theatre) and Lord of the Flies (Round House). New York credits include Off Broadway's Songs for a New World, Sing to Me Through Open Windows (Alchemical Theatre) and Always the Young Strangers (Actors Fund). Film/TV credits include Trident Gum's "Anthem" national commercial, CBS's The Good Wife, ID Discovery Channel's Who the Bleep Did I Marry and Showtime's The Affair. Kyle was featured on Masterclass.com with Kevin Spacey and is a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College. www.kyleschliefer.com
The creative team for Carousel also includes Wig Designer Anne Nesmith, Dialect Coach Lynn Watson, Associate & Text Director Anita Maynard-Losh, Associate Music Director William Yanesh, Assistant Choreographer Tony Neidenbach, Stage Manager Susan R. White, Assistant Stage Manager Trevor Riley and Production Assistant Elle Bolin.
For full company bios, visit arenastage.org/shows-tickets/the-season/productions/carousel.
Post-Show Conversation Connect with our shows beyond the performance at a post-show conversation with artists and staff. November 15, 16 and December 21 following the noon performance; November 22 following the 7:30 p.m. performance; and December 1 following the 8:00 p.m. performance
Tickets for Carousel are $50-99, subject to change and based on availability, plus applicable fees. For information on savings programs such as pay-your-age tickets, student discounts, family fun packs, Southwest Nights and hero's discounts, visit arenastage.org/shows-tickets/single-tickets/savings-programs. Tickets may be purchased online at arenastage.org, by phone at 202-488-3300 or at the Sales Office at 1101 Sixth St., SW, D.C.
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Director Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces plays of all that is passionate, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays, and impacts the lives of over 10,000 students annually through its work in community engagement. Now in its seventh decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000.