The Catholic University of America

Oct. 16, 2014

Carousel Comes to Life at Newly Renovated Hartke Theatre

  Freshman Harrison Smith performs with the male ensemble in Carousel. Photos Courtesy of Brian S. Allard.

The sweeping score of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel will come to life this fall as the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music presents its fall musical on stage at The Catholic University of America’s newly renovated Hartke Theatre.

Carousel will be presented over two weekends, Friday, Oct. 17 and 24, and Saturday, Oct. 18 and 25, at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, Oct. 19 and 26, at 2 p.m., at Hartke Theatre, 3801 Harewood Road.

With music by Richard Rodgers and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Carousel is known for its soaring melodies, beautiful underscoring, and lush orchestrations, notes N. Thomas Pedersen, head of the Musical Theatre Division who is providing musical direction for the show.

will be the first musical presented in CUA’s Hartke Theatre since its recent updates, which included new seating and carpeting. Since its opening in 1970, the Hartke Theatre has enjoyed a long history of outstanding performances by luminaries such as Helen Hayes, Cyril Richard, and Pat Carroll.

The production is directed by Clinical Assistant Professor Jay D. Brock, with choreography by CUA Dance Coordinator Pauline Grossman. The musical has a cast of 34 actors and will be accompanied by 28 members of the CUA Symphony Orchestra.

Sophomores Hasani Allen and Allison Verhofstadt  

“The opportunity for our students to perform these golden age musicals in a beautiful space like the Hartke stage, with full orchestra, is a testament to the talent of our students and the support of the University,” Pedersen said.


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The musical tells the story of two couples in 1890’s Maine: carousel barker Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan, and Carrie Pipperidge and Enoch Snow. Though the show encompasses serious issues like domestic abuse and suicide, Brock says it is a story of redemption.

“The message is not that abuse is okay ... but that it happens ... and how do people go about dealing with it and finding forgiveness and redemption,” Brock said. “In any partnership we abuse those we love from time to time and need to be redeemed. Although I find some of the characters to be unlikable, I also find them to be honest and human.”

What makes Carousel unique among Rodger and Hammerstein’s musicals is its focus on realistic and flawed characters, Brock said.

“It’s a musical about real people with real issues,” he said. “Most musicals address the lucky or the wealthy or the famous. It’s really uncommon to see a musical about people living ordinary lives and there’s no one in this musical who is special. That’s a challenge for performers to address.”

“Along with its beautiful music, it’s a strong play that stretches the students’ acting chops,” said Pedersen. “Carousel hasn’t been done around here in a long time, so hopefully audiences will come and revisit the show through the eyes of this age group of performers and see the story in a fresh way.”

Tickets are $20 for general admission; $15 for CUA alumni; and $10 for seniors, students, and CUA faculty and staff. For more information, visit or call 202-319-5416. Tickets can be purchased here.



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