Carnival - SYNOPSIS

1961 Broadway
Carnival the Musical - SYNOPSIS

Act 1

A lone figure, Jacquot, is playing "Love Makes the World Go 'Round" on a concertina as the carnival is being set up ("Opening"). Gradually, the other carnival members arrive and parade their colorful banners and bright costumes ("Direct From Vienna"). Lili, an optimistic orphan, enters the carnival, in hopes of a job ("A Very Nice Man"). But instead, Gobert, the souvenir salesman, tries to sexually assault her. Marco the Magnificent, a handsome magician, enters as Lili escapes from Gobert, and performs a magic trick, which enchants Lili so much that she falls in love with him.

In another part of the carnival Paul Berthalet, a lonely and bitter puppeteer who has become crippled because of a war injury, is preparing his new act, which is lifeless and uninteresting. The carnival manager B. F. Schlegel, fires him. Jacquot, who is his assistant puppeteer, tells Paul he can smooth things over; but Paul, unhappy with his new life as a cripple, declares his need to find a meaning for his life ("I've Got to Find a Reason"). Lili happens by at that moment, and Paul dismisses her. Lili tells Paul and a charmed Jacquot that she cannot leave because she has come from a long way from "Mira" and longs to live a grand life. At that moment, Marco returns from the parade and a jealous Paul tells him to leave her alone because "she's not like the others." Marco invites her to his trailer and charms her ("A Sword and a Rose and a Cape"). His longtime mistress & assistant Rosalie learns that Marco has a female friend over and worries that Marco is trying to have an affair behind her back ("Humming").

Marco offers Lili a job in his magic show and an excited Lili takes the role ("Yes, My Heart"). Meanwhile, Jacquot convinces Paul to stay with the carnival because no matter where he goes, he will never be the famous dancer that he once was again. Paul ponders on how miserable he has been since becoming crippled, comparing himself to the smiling puppets ("Everyone Likes You"). At the magic show, unable to keep her enthusiasm under control, Lili ruins one of Marco's magic tricks during his show and gets herself fired ("Magic, Magic"). Despite the mishap, the rest of the carnival goes on without a hitch ("Tanz Mit Mir"/"Carnival Ballet").

Humiliated, she starts to attempt a suicidal jump from the acrobat's ladder, but is stopped by a small redheaded puppet named Carrot Top. Lili meets the three other puppets: Horrible Henry, Marguerite, and Reynardo the Fox. After singing a song to comfort Horrible Henry ("Love Makes the World Go 'Round"), Lili is invited to join the puppet act. When she leaves with Jacquot to find a place to stay in the carnival, Marco taunts Paul through Carrot Top, "Poor old Carrot Top...she loves ME!"

Act 2

The puppet act becomes a hit as Lili becomes close with the puppets, not realizing what they really are ("Yum Ticky"/"The Rich"/"Love Makes the World Go 'Round" [Reprise]/"Beautiful Candy"). Paul notices that he pays a lot of attention to Lili and curses his obsession with "Her Face", only to realize the emotion he is feeling is love. All the same, he treats her with increasing cruelty, but increasing care through his four alter egos. Jacquot sees that the carnival is gaining popularity and predicts that the carnival will soon be "The Grand Imperial Cirque De Paris." In the morning, Paul watches Marco and Lili almost kiss and stops them. Jealous, Paul is verbally abusive to her while practicing with Lili, correcting her every move and executes a dance step miserably, causing him to fall. He causes Lili to have a breakdown and he kisses her. Lili, shocked, angry and confused about his feelings, decides to leave the carnival as Paul mourns that she will never know his true feelings. Lili still has not put together that the puppets she loves so much and who are nice to her, are in fact the hated Paul ("I Hate Him"/"Her Face" Reprise).

The next day, the circus travels to a new town ("The Grand Imperial Cirque De Paris"/"Direct from Vienna" Reprises). Behind the scenes, Marco practices a magic trick with Rosalie, who has threatened to leave him for a doctor. They pledge their love to each other, deciding to run away together to start their own show ("Always, Always You"). But, Marco tells Lili that he is leaving the carnival and secretly invites her. Even though she has learned of his womanizing ways from Rosalie, a frantic Lili accepts. Paul objects to this and Marco taunts him, ending with Paul attacking him. Upon seeing this, Lili screams her hatred and Paul strikes her. As Paul realizes "She's My Love", an angry Jacquot tells him that he made Lili grow up, teaching her the world is full of cruelty and not of love.

As Lili is leaving, she says goodbye to Marco, telling him that she was living a little girl's dream and she must move forward with her life. Marco tries to take her back, but he is impressed with her newfound maturity and lets her go. Carrot Top and Horrible Henry appear to Lili, telling her to take them with her. She sees the puppets are trembling, and lifts the puppets off to discover that the puppets have been Paul all along. (In some revised versions, Lili reveals that she always knew that the puppets were Paul.) As Paul angrily confesses his love for her, she begins to understand the kindness in him and together, they follow the carnival.

Review: Carnival the Musical Songs Lyrics