American composer and songwriter Bob Merrill is probably best known for the Barbra Streisand mega-hit Funny Girl, which opened on Broadway in 1964. But before that, in 1961, he debuted Carnival!
Based on an earlier film starring Leslie Caron, the show ran over 700 performances on Broadway before it closed in 1963. Some of its songs include Rum Ticky Ticky Tum Tum, Always, Always You and Love Makes The World Go ‘Round.
Now Milwaukee audiences have a chance to hear those songs and more as In Tandem Theatre prepares to open their version of Carnival! this Friday evening. Running through May 14th the show begins the minute you walk in as the lobby has been transformed into a carnival midway.
Taking place in the early 1920s outside of Paris, France, the show centers on Lili (portrayed by Susie Wiedmeyer), a young and naive woman who comes to the carnival looking for work. She meets Marco (played by Stephen Koehler), the charming magician who decides to make her his latest conquest. Lili takes a job working with Paul (Nathan Marinen), a puppeteer who falls in love with Lili but his bitterness and anger only serve to push her further into Marco’s arms.
Director Jane Fleier says that while there are fun moments of musical comedy in the story, there is a darkness to it. "When you go to the carnival, its allusion and grandeur, and then if you went backstage...you're going to see some stuff that's not always pretty," she says. "To me, it's more of a story of living and learning and growing...it’s got some real heart and real depth."