Though your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
And you'll never walk alone!"
A 1945 musical adaptation of Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnar's 1909 play Liliom, Carousel was Rodgers and Hammerstein's follow-up to their first smash, Oklahoma!. A film version was released in 1956, a year after the film version of Oklahoma! (and reuniting the latter's two leads).
Billy Bigelow is a carousel barker at a New England village, while Julie Jordan is a mill worker from the same town. They meet, kind of fall in love and get married. The two lose their jobs, which frustrates Billy to the point that he lets loose his violent tendencies on Julie. Despite this, she's still willing to love the guy; when she gets pregnant, Billy decides to participate with a chum named Jigger in robbing Julie's former boss. The plan goes awry, and a disgraced Billy takes his own life. Fifteen years later, Billy is given a chance by "The Highest Judge of All" to redeem himself by helping his family out.
A remake was planned with Hugh Jackman as Billy, but nothing came of it.
This story features examples of:
- Adaptational Alternate Ending: Liliom originally ended on a downer with Liliom failing to help his daughter and going to hell once he strikes her. This was revised in Carousel so that Billy sticks around afterwards and succeeds in his mission. Molnar actually liked the newer ending.
- Alliterative Name: Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan.
- All Musicals Are Adaptations
- Beta Couple: Carrie Pipperidge and Enoch Snow
- Break the Cutie: Well, the Fates attempted to break Julie, anyway. Find the love of your life, marry him, get caught in an abusive relationship, and then he dies, leaving you to raise your unborn child alone. Lesser characters would've definitely cracked under that strain.
- Dark Reprise: "If I Loved You." First sung by the leads as they ponder a life together; Billy sings it as a ghost as he mourns his wasting his opportunity to spit out his feelings for Julie.
- Disappeared Dad: Billy for Louise, though there is an explanation for this, and the audience gets to know what happened from Billy's point of view.
- Domestic Abuse
- Does Not Like Shoes: Louise.
- Driven to Suicide: Billy. The film version amends this to Billy accidentally falling on his own knife.
- Fourth Date Marriage: Billy and Julie meet in May and are already married in June.
- Ghost Song: Anything Billy sings after his death, especially his reprise of "If I Loved You."
- Hollywood Old: Julie and, to a lesser extent, Carrie, in the final act of the film version.
- How We Got Here: The film version opens with Billy in heaven; the stage version starts chronologically.
- Irrelevant Act Opener: "A Real Nice Clambake."
- Karma Houdini: Jigger. Though the film version suggests he eventually went to hell.
- Mood Whiplash: The bench scene is a beautiful love song where the couple falls for each other. In the next scene, a month later, they're already having some serious marital problems.
- Musicalis Interruptus: Julie tries singing "You'll Never Walk Alone," but breaks down crying after a few bars. Nettie and the other townfolks take over.
- Never Got to Say Goodbye
- Opening Ballet: "The Carousel Waltz."
- Playing Gertrude: Shirley Jones, age 22, was only four years older than her onscreen daughter.
- Posthumous Narration: In the film, Billy tells the story of his life with Julie while in heaven.
- Race Lift: In the 2017 Broadway revival, Billy is played by black actor Joshua Henry.
- Romanticized Abuse: It's clear that Billy loves Julie. It's also clear that he's abusive, though perhaps less so than in the play it's based on.
- Setting Update: Subverted. Lilom was set in Budapest around the time it was written (1909). Carousel brings it closer to the writers in place (Maine), but further away in time (1873, then 1888).
- Small Start, Big Finish: "You'll Never Walk Alone". Nettie is comforting Julie at the beginning so naturally sings softly, but she hits bigger and longer notes as the song progresses.
- Someone to Remember Him By: Julie and Billy's daughter, Louise, is born after his death.
- Talk About the Weather
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Enoch Snow goes from a decent guy if something of a stuffed shirt, to a prideful rich jerk fifteen year later.
- You Are Not Alone: "You'll Never Walk Alone."