Worthing Musical Comedy Society marks its 80th anniversary year with a production of Carousel.
The show also brings an anniversary for director Allan Cardew who first worked with the company 25 years ago.
“I was approached by the company last year to do this show with them, and I was very happy to work with them again,” Allan says. “I think I have done six or seven productions with them over the years. I always think it is good to have different directors. It is healthy not to get stuck in the same way of doing things. I always think you need a pair of fresh eyes.”
And the great thing is that Allan can genuinely count Carousel among his favourites.
“It’s a good old schmaltzy Rodgers & Hammerstein, but at the same time there is a lot of real bite to it. From today’s point of view, there are things in it that are not the easiest to get over. He beats his wife. He steals. There is dishonesty, and there is suicide. It is pretty strong on themes, and it is all set to music! You have also got considerations of eternity and about the consequences of what we do in life.”
You have also got the complexities of the staging – “though the approach we have gone for is a slightly-different one,” Allan says. “We have pared it down a bit. We didn’t want lots of scenery trundling on and off the stage. We had to think things through. We are using a revolve, but hopefully we are using it in a clever enough way.”
The invitation from the company was specifically to direct Carousel, the show they had already chosen: “My response was an instant yes. I hadn’t worked with them for a while, and I had just retired from work. I thought this was a good opportunity. And I like the show. I genuinely do. Musically, I think it is absolutely wonderful, but the book can be a bit of a challenge to make it seem real. There are lines in there that in the 21st-century will surprise people. There will be a sharp intake of breath when you hear lines like ‘Somebody can beat me, and it won’t really hurt.’ But the point is you have got a story of ever-lasting love. They can’t live with each other, and they can’t live apart.”
The show comes as the company continues to ring the changes: “Worthing Musical Comedy Society do a mixture of different shows. The last one was Jesus Christ Superstar. They have done Jekyll & Hyde. They have done The Producers and Thoroughly Modern Millie. But they also do the old standards. I think everything has got its place. In Oklahoma!, you can get lost in a sea of gingham, but if you pare the story down to the basics, then hopefully you can work it back up from there.”
And the same with Carousel. As Allan says, these days audiences have got a certain level of expectation of reality which companies have got to meet...
Originally from Cornwall, Allan lives in Portslade: “I came to Brighton in 1973. I have performed in Worthing a couple of times, but most of my work has been over in Brighton. I have just retired from a performing arts school where I taught drama and academic studies.”
Carousel runs from May 5-9 at Worthing’s Connaught Theatre. Tickets on 01903 206206 or visit www.worthingtheatres.co.uk