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Sunday June 23rd 2024

Carousel | 1956

Carousel film location: Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Carousel film location: the seaside town: Boothbay Harbor, Maine | Photograph: Shutterstock / Joseph Sohm

Hollywood fudges the best of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musicals by patronising audiences with that silly prologue. The production does, though, escape the studio to be filmed at a real seaside town.

Based on Ferenc Molnar’s 1909 play Liliom, the musical transposes the action from Hungary to the New England seaside.

Frank Sinatra was the first choice to play Billy Bigelow and indeed made it to the filming location in Maine ready to shoot. There are various versions of why the volatile Sinatra packed up and left (most convincing is his notorious refusal to perform more than one take in a film), but he was swiftly replaced by Gordon Macrae.

The beautiful location filming uses the Maine coastal port of Boothbay Harbor, off I-1, around 30 miles south of Augusta, though the town has obviously changed in the intervening years. Most of the film’s scenes were shot where the Carousel Marina now stands.

If you’re visiting in the summer months, when June is bustin' out all over, you can visit the Carousel Music Theater, a dinner-theatre that honestly doesn’t have a great deal to do with the movie (it opened in the Eighties) but celebrates classic showtunes with singing-waiting staff.

If the geography of the coast seems to change a little for Billy’s dramatic Soliloquy number and the ballet sequence, that’s because these scenes were filmed at Paradise Cove, 28128 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu.

Paradise Cove, once a humble fishermen’s hangout, has become an upscale beachfront community with its famous Pier and Bob Morris’ Paradise Cove Beach CafĂ©. The cove has been a screen regular, appearing in Indecent Proposal, American Pie II and Beach Blanket Bingo.