This is the first full staging of Liliom in New York in 40 years and it’s such a satisfying play I feel gratitude to Beautiful Soup for producing it. The musical it inspired, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, is among the best of all time but in some ways the play is even more dramatically powerful.
Written in 1909, the play takes place in Budapest, Hungary, with a foray to Heaven. Liliom is the nickname of a carousel barker, vibrant, handsome, but also edgy, impatient and prone to violence. He’s loved by two women — well, all the girls “love” this good looking guy but there are two women important in his life — Mrs. Muskat, the tough, experienced, older woman who owns the carousel, and Julie, the young, inexperienced serving girl who sets up house with him.