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Carnival is a 1961 musicalmarker with book by Michael Stewart and music and lyrics by Bob Merrill, starring Anna Maria Alberghetti, James Mitchell, Kaye Ballard, Pierre Olaf, and Jerry Orbach (making his Broadway debut). Gower Champion both directed and choreographed with orchestrations by Philip J. Lang. The musical was based on the film Lili (1953).

Carnival premiered on April 12, 1961 at the Imperial Theatremarker, where it played until December 15, 1962, when it moved to the Winter Garden Theatremarker. The musical closed on January 5, 1963 after 719 performances. A production was briefly mounted in Londonmarker's West Endmarker in 1963, with Champion's staging recreated by Lucia Victor and Doria Avila; it featured Michael Maurel, Shirley Sands, Sally Logan, Bob Harris, Francis de Wolff, and one actor from the original Broadway production, James Mitchell. The show proved unpopular and quickly closed after 34 performances, although not without a cast album. Arthur Freed briefly contemplated a film version, probably with Mitchell and Pierre Olaf, but his plans abruptly collapsed.

Carnival has been revived twice off-Broadway by the Equity Library Theatre (1977) and the York Theatre Company (1993). In 2002, New York City Center Encores! mounted a concert production with Anne Hathaway as Lili and puppets by the Jim Henson Company, NY Muppet Workshop. (Both the Equity Library Theatre and Encores! stagings were taped for the New York Public Librarymarker Billy Rose Theatre Collection archives.) Ben Brantley in his New York Times review praised the Encores! concert, describing Hathaway as convincing in the role even though "Lili may be the most unworldly heroine ever in a Broadway musical, dangerously blurring the lines between innocence and mental deficiency". It was most recently produced at the Kennedy Centermarker in Washington, DCmarker from February 17 to March 11, 2007. The Kennedy Centermarker cast included Ereni Sevasti (Lili), Jim Stanek (Paul), Sebastian La Cause (Marco), Natascia Diaz (Rosalie), Michael Arnold (Jacqout), and Jonathan Lee Iverson (Schlegel).

Plot synopsis

Carnival opens with a lone figure—Jaquot—playing "Love Makes The World Go Round" on a concertina ("Opening"). Gradually, the other carnival members enter and parade their colorful banners and bright costumes ("Direct From Vienna"). Lili, a young optimistic orphan, enters the gift caravan in hope for a job ("A Very Nice Man"). Marco the Magnificent, a magician, enters and performs a magic trick, which enchants Lili so much that she falls in love with him. He invites her to his trailer and charms her ("A Sword And A Rose And A Cape"). She agrees to participate in one of his magic tricks and leaves to explore more of the carnival happily ("Yes, My Heart"). Over in another part of the carnival we meet Paul Berthalet, a lonely, bitter and crippled puppeteer who is unhappy with life ("I've Got to Find a Reason"), ignoring his friend Jaquot's protests. Lili enters, glad to meet them. She tells them of her hometown "Mira" because she is homesick ("Mira"). Jaquot feels sympathy for Lili, but Paul is unmoved and doesn't care. At the night's performance, Lili ruins the trick and the show. Humiliated, she prepares to leave, but is stopped by a small redheaded puppet named Carrot Top. Lili meets the three other puppets—Horrible Henry, Maugerite, and Reynardo the Fox. Lili, after singing a song to comfort Horrible Henry ("Love Makes The World Go Round") she decides to join the puppet act. When Lili leaves, it is revealed that Paul is the puppeteer. The puppet act becomes a hit, starting with the song "Yum Ticky" and then grander songs like "The Rich" and "Beautiful Candy". Paul notices that he pays a lot of attention to Lili and curses his obsession with "Her Face" only to realize the emotion he's feeling is love. All the same, he treats her with increasing cruelty but increasing care through his four alter egos. Jaquot sees the carnival is gaining popularity and predicts that the carnival will soon be "The Grand Imperial Cirque De Paris". Paul is frustrated and while practicing with Lili, corrects her every move and executes a dance step miserably, causing him to fall. When Lili runs to help him, he kisses her. Lili is shocked, angry and confused. They run to opposite sides as Lili proclaims he's the first person she's ever hated ("I Hate Him") while Paul reprises "Her Face". Meanwhile Marco practices a magic trick with his partner, The Incomparable Rosalie, who has threatened to leave him for a doctor. They pledge their love with "Always, Always You". Paul sings about his love with "She's My Love". Lili, stressed, prepares to leave the carnival. The carnival, too, is moving to a new town. Carrot Top appears asking her if she will leave without saying goodbye. She sees the puppet is trembling, and lifts the puppet off to reveal Paul's hand. She brings him out of the puppet stand. As Paul confesses, she begins to understand the kindness in him and together they follow the carnival.

Song list

Act I
  • Direct from Vienna -- The Incomparable Rosalie, Greta Schlegel and Carnival People
  • A Very Nice Man -- Lili
  • Fairyland -- Puppets
  • I've Got to Find a Reason-- Paul Berthalet
  • Mira -- Lili
  • Sword, Rose and Cape -- Marco the Magnificent and Roustabouts
  • Humming -- The Incomparable Rosalie and Mr. Schlegel
  • Yes, My Heart -- Lili and Roustabouts
  • Everybody Likes You -- Paul Berthalet
  • Magic, Magic -- Marco the Magnificent, The Incomparable Rosalie and Lili
  • Tanz Mit Mir -- The Bluebird Girls
  • Carnival Ballet -- Lili, Carnival People and Townspeople
  • Mira (Reprise) -- Lili
  • Theme from "Carnival" -- Lili and Puppets

Act II
  • Yum Ticky -- Lili and Puppets
  • The Rich -- Lili and Puppets
  • Theme from "Carnival" (Reprise) -- Lili and Puppets
  • Beautiful Candy -- Lili, Puppets and Vendors
  • Her Face -- Paul Berthalet
  • Grand Imperial Cirque de Paris -- Jacquot and Carnival People
  • I Hate Him -- Lili
  • Grand Imperial Cirque de Paris (Reprise) -- Carnival People
  • Always Always You -- Marco the Magnificent and The Incomparable Rosalie
  • She's My Love -- Paul Berthalet


The 1961 Original Broadway Cast recording was released circa July 1961 on MGM 3946, Stereo S3946. It omits much of the dance music, as well as the songs "Magic, Magic," "Fairyland," and the "Mira" reprise. The Original London Cast album, released in 1963 on His Master's Voice CSD-1476, features the same tracks and edits but includes some dialogue. The CD of the original Broadway cast was released on June 8, 1989 on Decca Broadway; it includes nine bonus tracks, of which five are by Merrill.

Chart positions

Year Chart Position
1961 Billboard Pop Albums (Billboard 200) (mono) 1

Awards and nominations


  1. Hugh Fordin, MGM's Greatest Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit (New York: Da Capo Press, 1996), 518. ISBN 0-306-80730-0
  2. The New York Times, A Girl Innocent Enough to Believe a Puppet Is Alive, Ben Brantley, February 9, 2002, Arts and Culture p. 7
  3. Performance: Carnival Feb 17 - Mar 11, 2007
  4. New York Times, John S. Wilson, July 2, 1961, p.X12
  5. Cast Album Database: Carnival. Accessed 2007-31-12.

Further reading

  • Gilvey, John Anthony. Before the Parade Passes By: Gower Champion and the Glorious American Musical. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2005. ISBN 0-312-33776-0
  • Payne-Carter, David, Brooks McNamara, and Steve Nelson, eds. Gower Champion: Dance and American Musical Theatre. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999. ISBN 0-313-30451-3

External links

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