Carousel at Kilworth House

22nd June 2022

Finally, on the 3rd re-arrangement of the dates, (we were originally due to go in June 2020), a group or 16 DonMoggers and friends assembled at the top of the picnic area at Kilworth on a bright, very warm and sunny day, for a picnic and the theatre. Due to the need to transport picnic tables and chairs, plus people, and sometimes more than the 2 that can be accommodated in a MOG, only Chris and Deb Lewis actually arrived in a MOG. Sensibly, the first people to arrive had settled well into the shade and with 2 hours for the picnic before we started assembling for the show, that was a very sensible move. It was great to see Pam & George again, although we did miss Philippa who I know had been really looking forward to it. Luckily my friend’s niece was able to use Philippa’s ticket (thanks Philippa), so it did not go to waste. It was only when any of us ventured down the slope to use the ‘facilities’ that we became aware of just how warm it was.

For those of you who have never been to Kilworth Open Air theatre, the audience and stage are under a canopy, so neither the audience nor the cast get wet when it rains, and once I’d realised how hot it was, I was thinking thank heavens for the canopy it will provide us with shade – again, more of that later! The Kilworth theatre has got a reputation for producing first class shows of a West End standard, using professional, and frequently well-known stars. This production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel was no exception. Set in America in 1946 it tells the story of 2 friends returning home from the second World War with little or no prospects and how their attempts at making a quick buck badly backfire. The set, the performances the singing and the energy of the cast was impressive, and with numbers that included ‘If I Loved you’, ‘June is Bustin’ Out All Over’, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ amongst others, many if not all of the audience were singing along too.

During the first half, I think it’s fair to say everyone, well certainly everyone in the audience, was feeling pretty warm and hot when we, the DonMog crowd, were suddenly aware of one of the front of house staff, helping out someone from the audience who had been in the row in front of us. They did it very professionally and with as little fuss as possible, and when the lady concerned was able to continue watching the performance from the side (having had some water and fresh air), we thought all was well. However, sometime later, but still in the first half, a similar incident happened on the other side of the auditorium, again handled well and professionally, and again without disrupting the performance. The heat inside the canopy was pretty high, and whilst I always have a bottle of water with me, I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people didn’t. By now, the front of house staff that were sat at the side of the seating area had water to hand out if wanted, to what, in the main, was an audience that was, shall we say, not in the first flush of youth. They say that things always happen in 3s, and low and behold, yet again during the first half, a third incident occurred, but this one was more serious, and the performance had to be stopped whilst someone from quite near the centre of the auditorium was almost carried out. The performance was stopped for probably close to 30 minutes whilst the incident was dealt with, and we later found out an ambulance called. To be very fair to all the Kilworth staff, they coped remarkably well with everything, including what was effectively an additional interval. I’m pleased to report that the person who had to be seen by the paramedics was OK.

As for the performers, who had of course had their sense of flow, timing and where they were in the production totally disrupted by the break, they were superb. They continued virtually from where the break had occurred and when the first line delivered after the unscheduled break was ‘So You came back then!’ the place broke out into spontaneous applause! In all my years of going to Kilworth I have never been disappointed with any production, and always impressed by their professionalism, and this year was no different. They received a standing ovation at the end of the show.

It was also re-assuring to hear afterwards that all our group had enjoyed it and were definitely up for another trip next year depending on what shows are being presented. The ‘additional, unscheduled’ entertainment had not marred their enjoyment of the show.

Liz Ellis