The Media, Culture, and the Arts Program Presents Staged Reading of ‘Carousel’
The musical, set in a coastal Maine town, follows the love story of a sweet, gentle millworker named Julie Jordan, played by Skylar Navratil (MCA ’23), and a troublemaking carousel barker named Billy Bigelow, played by Aidan Briggs (MCA ’22).
The Media, Culture, and the Arts program at The King’s College presented a concert staged reading of the musical Carousel on November 5 and 6 in the City Room on campus. As a staged reading, the scope of The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was scaled back, featuring a simplified set and fewer secondary characters.
In her introduction to the performance, Virginia Hart Pike, the show’s faculty producer and musical director, explained that she chose to perform Carousel as a staged reading so that King’s students could have the experience performing in a show that would normally be beyond the resources available at King’s.
The musical, set in a coastal Maine town, follows the love story of a sweet, gentle millworker named Julie Jordan, played by Skylar Navratil (MCA ’23), and a troublemaking carousel barker named Billy Bigelow, played by Aidan Briggs (MCA ’22). After Billy loses his job at the carousel, he meets Julie and causes her to lose her job at the mill as well. After their initial hesitations, they fall in love, eventually resulting in an unexpected pregnancy for Julie. In an attempt to provide for Julie and their unborn child, Billy participates in a plot to rob the wealthiest man in town. The robbery goes terribly wrong, but Billy is given a second chance to make amends and help steer his daughter in a different direction.
The secondary plot in Carousel involves fellow millworker Carrie Pepperidge, played by Kylia Ford (PPE ’23), and her romance with Enoch Snow, played by Harrison Chapman (RTS ’22), a local fisherman with big dreams of a future fleet of both boats and children. Throughout the two-act performance, several of the students played different roles, using costume, prop, and voice changes to signify their different characters. Nine other students played a variety of roles, highlighted by Connor Kopko (MCA ’22) as the narrator, Paige Miller (MCA ’22) as Mrs. Mullins, Ally Huizenga (MCA ’23) as Nettie Fowler, and Aidan Kurth (MCA ’24) as Jigger Craigin. Sarene Jackson (MCA ’24) and alumnae Kaylee Long (MCA ’20) and Gracie McBride (MCA ’21) performed in the show’s ensemble.
King’s students were excited to be back in front of a live audience. When asked what she enjoyed most about performing in Carousel, Kylia Ford said, “After COVID-19, it was so great to come together and find this new pocket of community and get to do a show with a bunch of individuals, as well as to be in a community like King’s that supports the arts.”
In her reflections on the show, Virginia Hart Pike shared, “I find this musical to be heart-breaking, even with its redemptive ending. Something about love not fully realized that should have been realized affects me on a deep level.” She said that we’re tempted to take the view of the townspeople towards Billy Bigelow, as a “ne’er-do-well from whom respectable people should stay away.” Pike sees a redemptive element, though, in Julie, the lead character: “Julie Jordan, however, sees beneath the layers of labels. There’s something she relates to and a goodness she believes can prevail in him. And isn’t that Christ-like? If God didn’t see beneath our layers of sin, we’d all be doomed to fail as well. . . . The redemption he [Billy] does achieve ties an important loose end in the life of his wife and daughter and reminds me of the healing and closure we can only get from a relationship with God.”
The performance was directed by Misti B. Wills and the executive producer was Dr. Henry Bleattler, associate professor of history and the humanities. Rochelle Thomas (PPE ’23) was student producer, Caroline Judd (MCA ’24) was the stage manager, and Juliet Miller (MCA ’23) was assistant stage manager. Dan Pardo joined Virginia Hart Pike in serving as the musical’s piano accompanists.
Parents, alumni, and friends of the College are invited to donate to support musical theater offerings at King’s. At tkc.edu/donate, select “musical theater” from the drop-down menu. The generosity of the King’s community makes performances like Carousel possible.