Carmen Jones

Musical with lyrics and book by Oscar Hammerstein II, based on the Meilhac and Halevy adaptation of Prosper Merimee's Carmen, with music by Georges Bizet.

As the Second World War rages, parachute maker Carmen Jones wages her own quarrel involving Joe, an airman in the Military, and Husky Miller, a boxer.

Original West End London Production 1991 at the Old Vic Theatre

London Revival 2007 at the Royal Festival Hall

For the Matthew Bourne dance-musical version see: The Car Man.

Oscar Hammerstein II other West End musicals include, with Jerome Kern, Show Boat; and, with Richard Rodgers, The King and I, Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music, Carousel, and South Pacific.


Original West End London Production 1991 at Old Vic Theatre

Previewed 27 March 1991, Opened 8 April 1991 and 15 April 1991, Closed 16 January 1993 at the Old Vic Theatre

The London West End Premiere of the Oscar Hammerstein and Georges Bizet musical Carmen Jones in London

The cast featured either - for 8 April 1991: Wilhelmenia Fernandez as 'Carmen Jones' and Damon Evans as 'Joe' - OR - for 15 April 1991: Sharon Benson as 'Carmen Jones' and Michael Austin as 'Joe' - with Gregg Baker as 'Husky Miller', Wendy Brown as 'Myrt', Jose Garcia as 'Poncho'/'Sergeant Brown', Danny John-Jules as 'Dink', Karen Parks as 'Cindy Lou', Clive Rowe as 'Rum', and Carolyn Sebron as 'Frankie', along with Steve Agyei as 'Eddie Perkins'/'Busker', Joshua Bancel as 'Corporal'/'Bullet Head', Averill Cameron as 'Victoria', Jon Clairmonte as 'Union Man', Sheilah Cuffy as 'Ida', Shelaagh Ferrell as 'Sally', Robin Jones as 'Remo The Drummer', Debra Michaels as 'Cleo', Ernestina Quarcoo as 'Poncho's Girlfriend', Llewellyn Rayappen as 'Foreman'/'Balloon Cheeks', Maurey Richards as 'Mr Higgins', Ismail Taylor Kamara as 'T-Bone', Nigel Wong as 'Slappy', Antonia Adellita, Josephine Amankwah, Richard D Sharp, Marc D Summers, Andrew Douglas, Eve Dove, Yolanda Grant, Tarcissius Januel, Clifton Lloyd-Bryan, Michelle Lokey, Melanie Marshall, Marcia Mullings, Bernadine Pritchett, Lynn Randolph, Leon Robinson, Kay Smith, Teresa Springer, Angelie Walker, Melvin Whitfield, and Annabelle Williams.

Directed by Simon Callow, with choreography by Stuart Hopps, designs by Bruni Santini, lighting by Mark Henderson, and sound by Julian Beech.

The two principle roles where played by two 'pairs' [A] and [B] who played opposite each other on a daily repertory-style schedule:

The role of [A] 'Carmen Jones' [A] was played by Wilhelmenia Fernandez from March 1991 to June 1991; by Paula Ingram for July and August 1991; and by Jennifer Chase from September 1991 to January 1993.

The role of [A] 'Joe' was played by Damon Evans from March 91 to February 92; and by Blair Wilson from March 1992 to January 1993.

The role of [B] 'Carmen Jones' was played by Sharon Benson from March 1991 to August 1992; and by Patti Boulaye from September 1992 to January 1993.

The role of [B] 'Joe' was played by Michael Austin from March 91 to June 1991; by Gary Wilmot from July 1991 to December 1992; and by Antoni Garfield Henry during January 1993.


London Revival 2007 at the Royal Festival Hall

Previewed 25 July 2007, Opened 31 July 2007, Closed 2 September 2007 at the Royal Festival Hall

The fully staged revival of Hammerstein and Bizet's Carmen Jones in London for a strictly limited six week season

The cast featured Tsakane Valentine Maswanganyi as 'Carmen Jones', Andrew Clarke as 'Joe', Rodney Clarke as 'Husky Miller', Rolan Bell as 'Morrel', Sherry Boone as 'Cindy Lou', Phillip Browne as 'Rum', Brenda Edwards as 'Pearl', Akiya Henry as 'Myrt', Andee-Louise Hypolite as 'Frankie', John Moabi as 'Dink', and Joe Speare as 'Sergeant Brown', with Josie Benson, Stuart Bowden, Peter Brathwaite, Jina Burrows, Angela Caesar, Ian Carlyle, Darren Charles, Leroy Dias, Dos Santos, Ramon Diaz Crosdale, Welly Locoh Donou, Joanna Francis, Herve Goffings, Celia Grannum, Yolanda Grant-Thompson, Divine Harrison, George Daniel Long, Lawrence de Maeyer, Tania Mathurin, Ngo Omene Ngofa, Terel Nugent, Kelechi Sarah Nwanokwu, Joanna Risebero, Tarisha Remmick, Alesandra Seutin, Nadine Smith, Antonio Tengroth, Jordene Thomas, and Kenny Thompson. With either the London Philharmonic Orchestra or the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Directed by Jude Kelly, with choreography by Rafael Bonachela, sets by Michael Vale, lighting by Malcolm Rippeth, and sound by Paul Astbury.

"Jude Kelly sticks to Hammerstein's reinventions... But she transplants the proceedings to present-day Havana where the inhabitants, in contemporary mufti, appear to be putting on the piece as a show within a show... [The London Philharmonic Orchestra] play the score with joyful attack, and I can see why Kelly has wanted to put them in a central position in a pit in the middle of the stage. But to confine the action to a narrow perimeter is not helpful either to a sense of specific locations or to Rafael Bonachela's sexy, Salsa-inflected choreography. As Carmen, the mezzo-soprano Tsakane Valentine Maswanganyi exudes a drop-dead, tantalising seductiveness. All leggy lasciviousness, she struts like an inscrutable law unto herself... It's a pity the acoustics are so muddy because there's considerable vocal prowess here - from Andrew Clarke's Joe, whose despairing tenderness pushes him into falsetto, and from Sherry Boone, who excels in communicating the love-lorn plangency of his former sweetheart, Cindy Lou... An evening with strong rewards, even if the set-up makes it feel curiously less than fully staged." The Independent

"Jude Kelly's first big bang musical theatre number at Royal Festival Hall has some spine-tinglingly good moments. From the overture, The London Philharmonic Orchestra captures the sultry power of Oscar Hammerstein's reimagining of Bizet's opera. Choreographer Rafael Bonachela has created some compelling ensemble dance pieces... Tsakane Valentine Maswanganyi makes a beautiful Carmen and adds the requisite touch of sassiness to her big numbers. It also has a few problems. For one, Maswanganyi can't act and struggles under the weight of a character as complex as Carmen; there's zero chemistry with Andrew Clarke's wooden Joe, the naive soldier she drives crazy... The Royal Festival Hall's super-duper new acoustics actually mean much of the spoken word is lost to echoes... An enjoyable but mixed bag of an evening." The London Metro

"From the start, the stage is filled with about a hundred people if you include the London Philharmonic Orchestra, who are plonked bang in the middle in what looks like the hull of an old galleon... Out of all this kerfuftle comes, eventually, Carmen. Played by the mezzo-soprano Tsakane Valentine Maswanganyi... she belts out the-big numbers with gusto, but, by golly, it's difficult to dominate quite such a big and overcrowded stage... The acoustics are not great, which is a pity because I liked Tsakane's voice and she has strong support from Andrew Clarke as Joe and Sherry Boone as his former lover, Cindy Lou. One had the impression there was a lot more that they all had to offer, but the trouble with putting such a large orchestra centre stage is that there is precious little room for the actors to strut their stuff." The Sunday Telegraph

Carmen Jones in London at the Royal Festival Hall previewed from 25 July 2007, opened on 31 July 2007, and closed on 2 September 2007