Stage Door Theater
Music and Lyrics by Bob Merrill
Book by Michael Stewart
Based on the story by Paul Gallicoand screenplay by Helen Deutsch
Directed by Dan Kelley
Love Makes the World — and This Musical — Go Around
Ms Caron, I would like you to meet Anjane Firestone, who is currently starring in the Stage Door production of Carnival, a role you made famous in Lili, the 1953 highly successful film which inspired the 1961 musical. You would be proud of her. Firestone’s Lili shares what I would call your “luminescence.” She, too, is able to project an innocence that transcends mere naivety. She is able to rise above a limited plot and add the magic that makes it believable. When she beautifully sings the key song, “Love Makes the World Go Round,” she makes the whole play go around — successfully.
The story is simple. A lonely young orphaned girl appears at small European carnival seeking a family friend who can not only give her a job but also provide a home. The troupe has seen better days but is still hopeful of a comeback. After several false starts, Lili fits into a role accompanying a puppeteer — falling in love, first with his charming creations — Carrot Top, Horrible Harry (a walrus), Marguerite (a diva), and a sophisticated fox — and ultimately with reclusive Paul, the man, himself (Bruno Faria). Along the way, she is romantically sidetracked by a handsome, charismatic magician, Marco the Magnificent (Michael Santora). A playboy, Marco is also involved with the stunning, statuesque Rosalie (Alexa Baray).
Yes, it is predictable, but what enriches the story is the lively world of the carnival complete with jugglers, tumblers, acrobats, an aerialist, a stilt walker, and a strongman. While the usual Stage Door audience is primarily senior citizens, the first row on the day I attended, was filled with children. This play holds most appeal for them as well as for the child in most of us.
Unfortunately, Act I began slowly, with some of the cast members a bit stiff. They unbent as the work unfolded and should become more comfortable over time. Act II more than compensated as the love story accelerated. If one sought a single world to sum it all up, that word would be CHARM.
Beverly Friend, Ph.D.
Member American Theater Critics Assn.
Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Margate, Fl 33065. www.stagedoortheatre.com 954-344-7765 .Tickets $38-42 , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, through Feb 28.