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In a Maine coastal village toward the end of the 19th century, the swaggering and carefree carnival barker, Billy Bigelow, captivates and marries the naive milworker, Julie Jordan. Billy loses his job just as he learns that Julie is pregnant and, desperately intent upon providing a decent life for his family, he is coerced into being an accomplice to a robbery. Caught in the act and facing the certainty of prison, he takes his own life and his sent 'up there.'

Billy is allowed to return to earth for one day fifteen years later, and he encounters his daughter he never knew. She is a lonely, friendless teenager, her father's reputation as a thief and a bully having haunted her throughout her young life. How Billy instills in both the child and her mother a sense of hope and dignity is a dramatic testimony to the power of love.

It's easy to understand why, of all the shows they created, CAROUSEL was Rodgers & Hammerstein's personal favorite.

  • Full Length Musical
  • Drama

  • Time Period: 19th Century
  • Target Audience: Adult, Pre-Teen (Age 11 - 13), Teen (Age 14 - 18), Appropriate for all audiences, Senior
  • Set Requirements: Unit Set/Multiple Settings

  • Performance Group:
  • High School/Secondary, College Theatre / Student, Community Theatre, Professional Theatre

  • Accolades:
  • Winner! 3 Olivier Awards including Best Director (Musical) - Nicholas Hytner (1993)
    Winner! 2 Outer Critics Circle Awards including Best Actress (Musical) - Audra Ann McDonald (1993), Winner! 8 Donaldson Awards including Best Musical
    Winner! 5 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical (1994)
    Winner! 1944 Drama Desk Award for Best Musical
    Winner! 1991 Olivier Award for Best Revival of a Musical
    Winner! 1945 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical
    Winner! 8 L.A. Dramalogue Awards (1994)
The time is 1873. The place, a small fishing village on the rocky New England coastline. Billy Bigalow, the handsome and swaggering barker for Mrs. Mullin's carousel in the local amusement park, meets Julie Jordan, a lovely young working girl at the nearby mill, when Julie and her friend Carrie Pipperidge come to the carousel. Billy and Julie fall in love and are soon married.

Everyone, it seems is against this union -- the townspeople caution Julie and Billy is warned, and even threatened by his boss, Mrs. Mullin, who is jealously in love with him. Because of the marriage, Billy loses his job. Thereupon he becomes sullen and difficult, raging bitterly and bullying his wife -- until Julie quietly informs Billy that he is about to become a father.

Desperately anxious to provide for the coming child, Billy is persuaded by Jigger, a shiftless sailor, to take part in a hold-up. The robbery attempt is thwarted; Jigger escapes, but Billy is caught by Mr. Bascombe, the would-be victim, who vows to hand him over to the police with the prospect of a long prison term. Cornered, disgraced and terrified for Julie and their unborn child, Billy kills himself. Julie arrives on the scene and cradles Billy as he dies in her arms.

Fifteen years pass. Billy, escorted by a Heavenly Friend, arrives in the backyard of Heaven. Here he meets The Starkeeper, who informs him that he will never get into Heaven until he redeems himself. After some argument, Billy is given a chance. He is allowed to return to Earth for one day, during which he must perform one good deed. Afforded a glimpse of Louise, his lonely and unhappy fifteen-year-old daughter, Billy steals a star to give to her at their first meeting. But back on Earth, he is still the rough blunder. Louise is shy and won't accept his gift. Unable to reach her in any other way, Billy slaps his daughter -- but the sting feels miraculously like a kiss to the girl. Louise explains this to her mother, Julie, who also sees the star that Billy has left behind, and instinctively, Julie understands.

Nevertheless, Billy has not yet performed his good deed, and the slap should have been his final straw. But Billy persuades the Starkeeper to give him one last chance. Unseen, Billy watched Louise at her high school graduation. He observes his daughter's self-doubts, her insecurities. Invisibly, spiritually, Billy reaches out to her; he urges her to believe in herself, and his is filled with pride as he watches his daughter blossom with confidence. Turning to Julie, Billy says simply, "I love you, Julie. Know that I love you." And Julie, somehow, hears him. She joins Louise and the rest of the townsfolk in singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" as Billy heads towards heaven.


"CAROUSEL will be 50 next year, but as of this morning, it is the freshest, most innovative musical on Broadway. It is also the most beautiful."

David Richards The New York Times

"It still makes an emotional impact and is as relevant today as ever."

Steve Cohen Broad Street Review

"As close to perfection as musical theater gets...At the end of CAROUSEL, the communal heft of this theatergoing experience will ensure that you won't be walking alone."

Boston Globe

"Beautiful, bountiful, is the product of taste, imagination and skill."

New York Daily Mirror


Time Magazine

"The audience is awash in the optimistic glow of Oscar Hammerstein's words and the glory of Richard Rodgers' music, beyond all reason. And CAROUSEL cements its estate in musical theatre heaven."

Alvin Klein The New York Times
Premiere Production:

In 1945 the world premiere of Carousel was presented at the Shubert Theatre, New Haven.

In 1945 Carousel opened at the Majestic Theatre, New York, where it ran for 890 performances.

In 1994, the revival of Carousel at the Lincoln Center Theatre opened for a run of 337 performances, winning five Tony Awards.

  • Casting: 5M, 5F
  • Casting Attributes: Ensemble cast, Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle), Roles for Children
  • Casting Notes: In this show, the race of the characters is not pivotal to the plot. We encourage you to consider diversity and inclusion in your casting choices.
  • Chorus Size: Medium

    1st HEAVENLY FRIEND (Brother Joshua)
  • Name Price
    Perusal Material Shipped immediately. This is optional. Order Now

    1 x Libretto/Vocal Book
    1 x Piano Vocal Score

    Pre-Production Pack Shipped upon receipt of a signed License Agreement and full payment of all invoices. This is optional.

    1 x Libretto/Vocal Book
    1 x Piano-Vocal Score

    Rehearsal Set Shipped a minimum of 3 months before the last performance. This must be hired as a condition of the License to produce this show.

    20 x Libretto/Vocal Books
    2 x Piano Vocal Scores
    1 x Dance Videotape

    $550.00 +$135.00/pm
    Orchestral Material Shipped a minimum of 1 month before the last performance. This is optional.

    1 x Flute (Doubling Piccolo)
    1 x Piano Vocal Score
    1 x Flute II (Doubling Piccolo)
    1 x Oboe (Doubling English Horn)
    1 x Clarinet I
    1 x Clarinet II
    1 x Bassoon (Optional Bass Clarinet)
    1 x Horn I
    1 x Horn II
    1 x Horn III
    1 x Trumpet I
    1 x Trumpet II
    1 x Trombone I
    1 x Trombone II
    1 x Trombone III
    1 x Tuba
    1 x Percussion
    1 x Harp
    2 x Violin I (Divisi)
    2 x Violin II (Divisi)
    2 x Viola (Divisi)
    2 x Cello (Divisi)
    1 x Bass

    $350.00 +$135.00/pm
    Reduced Orchestrations Shipped a minimum of 1 month before the last performance. This is optional.


    1 x Piano Conductor
    1 x Bass (Acoustic)
    1 x Cello (Solo Player)
    1 x French Horn I
    1 x French Horn II
    1 x Harp
    1 x Keyboard (Synth that plays Accordion and fills out the strings as needed)
    1 x Percussion
    1 x Reed I (Flute, Piccolo, Alto Flute)
    1 x Reed II (Oboe, English Horn)
    1 x Reed III (Clarinet)
    1 x Reed IV (Bassoon)
    1 x Trumpet I
    1 x Trumpet II
    1 x Trombone
    1 x Viola
    1 x Violin I (Solo Player)
    1 x Violin II (Solo Player)

    $350.00 +$135.00/pm
    Two Piano Arrangement Shipped with (or after) Rehearsal Material. This is optional.

    2 x Act I
    2 x Act II

    $50.00 +$50.00/pm
    Partitur Shipped with (or after) Rehearsal Material. This is optional.

    Full Score
    Act I & Act II
    Synthesizer String Book

    $120.00 +$120.00/pm
    Lib/Vocal Book 10 Pack Shipped with (or after) Rehearsal Material. This is optional.

    10 x Libretto/Vocal Books

    $50.00 +$50.00/pm