Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Boothbay Harbor: Where a colorful cast once sang and danced

And you to blow me kisses
When I'm headin' for the sea
We might have been a happy pair
Of lovers, mightn't have we?

I might have had a baby
To dangle on my knee
But all these things
That might have been
Are never, never to be.
-Oscar Hammerstein II, from Carousel 

Imagine my delighted surprise when I was able to tie together two recent trips: a weekend at Oscar Hammerstein’s old house and Labor Day weekend in Maine.

Set on the coast of Maine, Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel is by far my very favorite musical.  It’s tough to say why.  The storyline is weak (after being killed in a robbery gone wrong, Billy Bigelow is sent back to earth to right the wrongs done to his long-suffering wife Julie and outcast daughter Louise), elements are dark (death, domestic abuse, and criminal anti-heroes), and the songs range from great (“You’ll Never Walk Alone,” “If I Loved You) to terrible (“A Real Nice Clambake”). But my goodness if the bittersweet end doesn’t make me cry like a baby no matter how often I watch it.  By the time ghost-Billy whispers to grown-Julie “I loved you, Julie, know that I loved you” I’m a sobbing mess. 

When wandering around Boothbay Harbor with its bay views, quaint main street, white trellised decks, and island clambake tours, I kept saying “this place looks like it came right out of Carousel.

Well guess what? That’s because some scenes from Carousel actually were filmed there, most notably the song and dance sequence “June Is Busting Out All Over.”

You can watch the entire sequence below, or skip ahead to 4:11 and revel in the greatness of a fisherman/sailor dance-off.  If only such things happened in real life, but that’s why we have musicals.  

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