In their three "Broadway in Concert" performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel last weekend, J. Ernest Green and the Annapolis Chorale, the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra and soloists proved that the music is the essential element of any Broadway classic.
Green's minimalist staging and snippets of dialogue rendered scenery superfluous.
On Friday and Saturday, the stage at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts was filled by the full chorus and the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra. On Sunday at Chesapeake Arts Center, a trio of musicians accompanied the soloists and chorale.
On both stages, a minimalist set of nautical rope, netting and plain benches conveyed the New England coastal region while taking only inches from the restricted stage space needed for the nine principals.
Patterned lighting evoked the seaside with colors changing to match the mood of the overture. The absence of set changes resulted in a bonus of nearly uninterrupted music.
Basically a dark story of irresponsible carnival barker Billy Bigelow and innocent young Julie Jordan, Carousel boasts a score that captures their essence, contrasted with the more conventional characters of Carrie Pipperidge, Enoch Snow and the townspeople. This is expressed in lively tunes such as "June Is Bustin' Out All Over" and "A Real Nice Clambake."
Jimi James brought a magnificent voice and strong acting skills to the role of Billy. He delivered a warm "If I Loved You" and a thrilling "Soliloquy."
As Julie, Amy Cofield gave a memorable performance, conveying her character's sweetness and strength and offering a touching "If I Loved You" and "What's the Use of Wondrin'."
Sarah Blaskowsky brought lightness and humor to her characterization of Carrie, offering a lilting "When I Marry Mr. Snow" and proving a charming partner for Tom Magette's Enoch.
As Nettie, Laurie Hays offered vocal versatility in a bright "June Is Bustin' Out All Over" and a dramatic "You'll Never Walk Alone."
Young Kate Sheridan gracefully fit the role of 15-year-old Louise Bigelow, Phyllis Everette was on the mark as Mrs. Mullin and Christopher Rhodovi sang well and swaggered appropriately as Jigger.
This weekend, Ballet Theatre of Maryland will present a program of American dance that will include a new work by choreographer Nolan T'Sani, with additional new dances by Bryan Skates and BTM artistic director Dianna Cuatto. The program, "An American Gala," will be at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Maryland Hall.
Set to Morton Gould's music, Cuatto's "American Ballads" will be danced in the style of Balanchine with colors shifting to coincide with jazz, classical and neoclassical elements. "American Ballads" is one of four segments that make up the program.
The director of the Capitol City Ballet, T'Sani sets his abstract work "Awakenings" to Ennio Morricone's music from the film The Mission, which tells the story of a Jesuit priest setting up a mission in the South American jungle.
BTM dancer Bryan Skates' "Sentimental Saunter" is a duet set to Gershwin, showcasing classical dance as portrayed by film stars Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire coupled with ballet. Cuatto's "Primal Dreams" is a jazz ballet dealing with the human journey.
On Saturday, a free wine tasting will precede the performance. For tickets, call the Maryland Hall box office at 410-263-5544 or go to www.balletmaryland.org for more information.