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Release: Immediate

Acclaimed revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's 'Carousel' comes to UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Royal National Theatre of Great Britain's acclaimed revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Carousel" will come from Broadway, where it won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, to the University of Iowa for four performances -- at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26 in Hancher Auditorium. "Carousel" is the first event in Hancher's 1996-97 Parsons Technology Broadway Series.

The new production features Tony Award-winning direction by Nicholas Hytner, director of the film "The Crucible" which is now in wide release. Hytner also directed "Miss Saigon" in both London and New York and directed both the stage and film versions of "The Madness of King George."

The show's choreography was created by Sir Kenneth Macmillan, the long-time director of Britain's Royal Ballet who died during the "Carousel" rehearsals. Macmillan's work was honored with a posthumous Tony Award.

A Tony Award also went to the production design by Bob Crowley, who based his stunning scenic visions -- intended to show "how earth would look from heaven" -- on the work of American painters including Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer and Iowa's own Grant Wood.

The revival was originally produced in London's West End by Cameron Mackintosh, the producer of "Les Miserables," "Cats," "Evita," "The Phantom of the Opera," "Miss Saigon" and many of the other top musical hits of the past two decades. The show captured four Olivier Awards in London before moving to Broadway.

The "Carousel" revival attracted immediate praise. Reporting from London, Frank Rich wrote in the New York Times, "This is without question the most revelatory, not to mention the most moving revival I've seen of any Rodgers & Hammerstein musical." Variety's Matt Wolf called it "an electrifying piece of theatre -- a landmark reclamation of a Rodgers & Hammerstein classic."

"Carousel," which premiered in 1945, is now regarded as a Rodgers & Hammerstein masterpiece that was far ahead of its time in style and content. It also contains some of the team's most beloved songs, including "You'll Never Walk Alone," "If I Loved You" and "June is Bustin' Out All Over."

This affecting tale of love and redemption begins in 1873, with the arrival of a carnival in a small New England town. Swaggering carousel barker Billy Bigelow and mill worker Julie Jordan fall in love, but Billy turns out to be a complex, undependable and sometimes abusive husband. Billy dies, leaving his wife and young daughter alone, but 15 years later he is permitted to return to Earth to redeem himself with one final good deed -- to help his rebellious, unhappy daughter.

Beginning with the revolutionary "Oklahoma!" in 1943 and continuing until Oscar Hammerstein's death in 1960, Rodgers & Hammerstein were the most consistently successful and popular figures in American theater. Their collaborations -- including "South Pacific," "The King and I" and "The Sound of Music" -- still rank among the defining achievements of American musical theater. Of all their spectacularly successful shows, "Carousel" remained the team's personal favorite.

Tickets for "Carousel" are $45, $41 and $37. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, and tickets for young people 17 and younger are half price. Tickets are also available at a substantial discount as part of the Parsons Technology Broadway Series. The other event in the series is "Kiss of the Spider Woman" Feb. 7 and 8.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Audio description for audience members with visual impairment will be provided for both performances on Jan. 25.

The corporate sponsor of the Broadway Series is Parsons Technology, through the University of Iowa Foundation.