Carousel, the musical, is a testament to the triumph of the spirit and a story of the innate goodness of the human person. Hence, it stands as an appropriate offering of the theater world, after more than two years of hiatus at that, to a humanity that has been plagued and sickened by the pandemic. Collectively, as a people, we all went through a storm. Individually though, in one way or another, our respective resolve got dampened in ways we had not imagined. But then again, we have walked on and will go on walking. Know deeply, however, that one does not and should not really walk alone.

While Carousel will always be Carousel, this Carousel is rather maverick. You won’t see any physical carousels at all. The stage is almost always bare or empty. While it is indeed devoid of anything there is, it is pretty much full of symbolism and soulful expressions. Effortlessly, the actors/actresses were able to connect their minds to the recesses of the audience, where physical spaces and effects were virtually considered excess already. Every gesture and each step in the dance becomes a worthy portrayal of the story. You would already catch yourself in the process of creating a vivid panorama inside your mind based on what your eyes were witnessing on the stage right before you. It was a sort of deconstruction of a thing so that you could come up with your own construction of something. Magical, you think? Not so; it’s also theatrical, but at its best.

Crisp, clean, and clever acting. In other words, each and every role was justified quite impeccably. Emotions were exact. The lines were attractively polished. And that many, if not all, in the cast were performing two or more characters—if that is not clever, then what is? Yet most importantly, if acting is being then I got a sense and a feel then and there that all of them on stage was just verily being themselves. All said, the cast of characters has only one name—chemistry. While the entire production, with the maverick director at the helm (Hooray, Toff de Venecia!), is simply genius.

On a quite personal note, Karylle has been a dear friend to me. Whenever I can, I really take time to watch her shows. But she’s distinct here as Julie Jordan. She portrays a “kawawa” wife, and she is so naive at that. “It is possible that someone may beat you and beat you and not hurt you at all.” Karylle is so profoundly powerful despite being weak and battered that I got carried away to the point that you would want to run to her and protect her from further pains courtesy of Billy Bigelow, the husband, and from anything else that the world could possibly do to harm her gentle soul. I am super proud of this friend of mine that at the curtain call I just found myself cheering so loudly like in a championship sports game.

But truth be told. A few days before the show, Karylle messaged me with this: “pls pray for a miracle father. im sick.” Despite that and everything else aside, where did this versatile actress ever get the strength and thespian prowess to perform in such an explosive manner? Bravo, Ana Karylle!

My experience of Carousel did not end with me leaving the theater (Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez). My thoughts kept on lingering. I couldn’t help but be biased toward my profession. Hence, Carousel is equivalent to 4 semesters of classes in Theology. It is about marriage and family, social justice, eschatology, and redemption, with synodality as its underpinning theme. The song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is epic and should be taken to the deepest of hearts by every faithful person following their sacred calling in life.

Furthermore, these questions:

“Can you still ask for an extension of your life in order to fulfill an unfinished business on earth? Like attending your child’s graduation?

“Can people on earth serve as judges too instead should one would feel so embarrassed to face God?”

“Why would a good girl fall for a bad guy and stay with him forever?”

“If life is a carousel, where will its direction be?”

Going back to the main protagonists: Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan. Billy appeared tough and all, but he was not able to endure. Conversely, Julie figured as weaker and somewhat gullible, but she prevailed. Never condoning domestic violence, this stark contrast speaks volumes. So sad.

Carousel is really sad. It was a struggle not to be emotional and not shed a tear or two. But then again, it will only be so if you really are alone. Thus, thou shall not walk alone. Have hope in your heart. Walk on, just walk on.

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