ensemble of Carnival performs the song
“Beautiful Candy” in
In Tandem’s production
play runs through May 14 at the Tenth Street Theatre at
10th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee. Call
414-271-1371 or visit intandemtheatre.org for times and
— In Tandem went all out for this one, including
turning their reception room into a veritable carnival
display and reconfiguring their theater space into an
in-the-round tent. Even the volunteers were in costume
to add to the festive flavor.
set in the 1920s, was inspired by the film “Lili,”
featuring Leslie Caron (1953). It came out as a musical
by Bob Merrill in 1961 and ran on Broadway for over 700
performances. Its signature tune, “Love Makes the
World Go Round,” remains a popular song, the only one
that lived beyond the show.
the glitz and magic of a carnival are an array of
characters and dramas that the audience doesn’t see.
We see the gaiety, the colors and the amazing feats of
the actors, but there are many unperceived stories going
on behind the scenes. This show focuses on these.
an innocent, lovable orphan girl of 17, (Susan Wiedmeyer)
comes to the carnival, looking for a job. She is
wide-eyed and trusting, but grows up a lot during her
short stay there. She meets the handsome,
self-impressed, debonair Marco the Magician (Steve
Koehler) and is enamored with him immediately. She is
introduced to the grouchy, demanding Schlegel (David
Ferrie), the frustrated ringmaster as he sees his
audiences waning in size and interest.
meets two puppeteers, Paul and Jacquot (J. Keegan
Siebken and Nathan Marinan), who charm her with their
creations of Carrot Top, Marguerite, Henry the Horrible
Walrus, and Reynaldo the Cagey Fox. She is also made
aware of Rosalie (Beth Mulkerron), Marco’s partner,
who had claims on him before Lili came along.
Marco has a wandering eye and a faithless heart.
falls in love with Lili and is very perturbed by
Marco’s attentions to her. He thinks that Marco will
hurt the too trusting, naive Lili, but the irony is that
his own love for her is hidden and often disguised as
disdain for her. The only way he seems capable of
manifesting his true feelings for her is by means of the
puppets, especially through Carrot Top and Henry the
through much turmoil, most problems get resolved, but
not without some pain and heartbreak. The story ends
with the realization that all humans are complex and
choreography by Karl Miller is charming, and the small
orchestra directed by Josh Robinson is right on cue.
Wiedmeyer’s light, lilting voice as Lili soars, and
Siebken delivers his anguished “I’ve Got to Find a
Reason” and “Her Face” with depth and beauty. I
liked the zest and strength that Marinan displayed in
his portrait of Jacquot. There was a man whom you could
trust, an anomaly in this story.
portrayal of the puppets is especially well-executed,
the ensemble numbers are musically pleasing, and Chris
Flieller is very impressive as the old lady and the
strange vet. That man has quite the range.
as always, by the reliable Jane Flieller, “Carnival”
is a treat in every way. It deserves your support.