Students at St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac last weekend effectively performed Rodgers and Hammerstein's popular musical "Carousel."

It is a unique story about priorities and second chances set in 1870s New England. A carousel barker, Billy Bigelow (Tim Rogan), falls in love with and marries Julie Jordan (Marisa Rheem). Bigelow's unemployment causes turmoil in the marriage, but a glimmer of hope arrives: Julie is pregnant. Bigelow decides to commit a crime for money and changes his, Julie's and their child's future.

Rogan's performance gave depth to Bigelow's character. His singing abilities were especially showcased in the solo, "Soliloquy," in which Bigelow wonders about his unborn child's identity. Rheem's ability to express kindness and grief was particularly strong. Bryn Whiteley as Carrie Pipperidge added a humorous touch to the show with her clear vocals.

Other actors also did a good job. Jacob Baron, playing Jigger Craigin, acted absolutely despicable -- and that's a compliment. The ensemble was generally engaged, but with varying energy. The guys made nice transitions from sailors to townspeople and even children. The ensemble did very well with the choreography, especially when several of them jumped rope. Kimi Hugli, as Bigelow's daughter, Louise, was passionate in her dance number.

Sarah Danly and Thea Klein-Mayer created St. Andrew's first student-designed set. It was very adaptable: One structure of platforms was onstage for the entire show, and various pieces of scenery were added or subtracted to clearly portray a location. The sound had some glitches, but it was generally effective. Several props, such as the basket of stars or the kitchen knife, were well-chosen for this show.

Overall, the St. Andrew's Players captured the spirit of the show.

Rachel Brisson

Hayfield Secondary School,

Fairfax County

The charismatic carousel barker shouts from his platform above the boardwalk and casts his eye on a shy young woman in the crowd.

It is love at first sight for Billy Bigelow (Tim Rogan) and Julie Jordan (Marisa Rheem). Unfortunately, Billy and Julie are not intended for happily-ever-after. They get married, but Billy decides to support his family through a murderous heist that turns the family upside down.

The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Carousel," which first opened in 1945, is an American classic. It was one of the first musicals whosesongs moved a significant portion of the plot. The production at St. Andrew's Episcopal School reflected an understanding of the important role music can play in telling the story.

The St. Andrew's orchestra sat alongside the stage and visible throughout the production. This placement worked particularly well, since key scenes -- such as Billy and Julie's meeting and the introduction of their daughter, Louise (Kimi Hugli) -- are conducted entirely in pantomime set to music.

Rogan dominated the stage as the swaggering, passionate Billy. His long solo, "Soliloquy," a meditation on what his unborn child could be like, filled the theater with energy and awe. Rheem's Julie Jordan is the perfect partner for the hot-tempered Billy, embodying Julie's calm confidence and dreamy nature.

The ensemble proved its strength in group numbers such as "June Is Bustin' Out All Over." Particularly notable were the sailors and their amusing gymnastics in "Blow High, Blow Low." This song is led by Billy's criminal sailor friend, Jigger, whose humor was nicely captured by Jacob Baron. Julie's friend and companion, Carrie Pipperidge (Bryn Whiteley) provides an endearing break from serious moments. Her stiff husband, Enoch Snow, played by William Moodie, was consistent and true to character.

At some moments during the ensemble numbers, it was difficult to hear soloists above the orchestra. Though the actors could have been louder, they should not have been overshadowed by a few noticeable eruptions of static and backstage talking.

The sets were St. Andrew's first designed by students. Sarah Danly and Thea Klein-Mayer created a boardwalk that was used creatively throughout the production. In the first scene, there were effects such as twinkling stars and falling petals.

St. Andrew's "Carousel" was a lively and sometimes dramatic ride.

Miriam Laufer

Wootton High School, Rockville