When Broadway darling Jessie Mueller left the lead role of Waitress last month (a void filled by the show's composer-lyricist Sara Bareilles), everyone wondered the same thing: What's she in next? We didn't have to wait long. This morning producers announced a revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's 1945 classic Carousel, set to open next March. Mueller will star as mill-worker Julie Jordan alongside the equally marvelous Joshua Henry (Shuffle Along) as her abusive husband, carnival barker Billy Bigelow.
As if that casting news weren't exciting enough, opera superstar Renée Fleming will make her debut in a Broadway musical as Nettie Fowler. For those of you not familiar with the show, Nettie is Julie's sensible cousin and gets to sing "You'll Never Walk Alone." We trust that Fleming—currently giving her operatic swan song at the Met in Der Rosenkavalier—will do justice to that classic Broadway anthem.
A dark story of love, violence and redemption with mystical overtones, Carousel hasn't been seen on Broadway since 1995, with the Tony-winning revival by Nicholas Hytner. This version will be directed by the dependable Jack O'Brien (currently helming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). The lead producers are Scott Rudin and Roy Furman, who are getting ready to open another musical chestnut, Hello, Dolly!, on Thursday.
Mueller did appear in Carousel in 2013—a concert version with the New York Philharmonic that starred Kelli O'Hara as Julie and Nathan Gunn as Billy. She played Carrie Pipperidge, Julie's lovestruck friend. Here's a taste of Mueller's gorgeous voice doing Rodgers & Hammerstein.