There’s no doubt that Shirley Jones loves “Carousel.”
The Oscar-winning actress is coming to Omaha for a May 24 screening of the 1956 movie version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.
The 7 p.m. screening, at Joslyn Art Museum, marks the 32nd classic-movie event organized by Omaha film historian Bruce Crawford. Jones will speak before the screening, then greet fans and sign autographs afterward.
Tickets, $20, go on sale today at Omaha Hy-Vee supermarkets. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Omaha Parks Foundation.
Also on hand for the occasion: Mandy MacRae Daley of Lincoln, whose father, Gordon MacRae, co-starred opposite Jones in both “Carousel” and the 1955 film version of “Oklahoma,” another Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.
MacRae, who called Lincoln home for the last 15 years of his life, died of cancer there in January 1986. He was godfather to Jones’ first son, Shaun Cassidy.
Jones won a supporting-actress Oscar for “Elmer Gantry” in 1961. She starred in the movie version of another Broadway musical, “The Music Man,” as well as a number of nonmusical films such as “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.”
She is best known to younger fans as the mother on “The Partridge Family,” a sitcom that ran four years in the early 1970s. At age 79, she continues to work, recently appearing on the TV sitcoms “Cougartown” and “Raising Hope.”
Crawford said Jones strongly hinted that “Carousel” was the movie she preferred for the Omaha event.
“She said ‘Carousel’ is her favorite score, the best thing Richard Rodgers ever composed, and Rodgers said the same thing,” Crawford said.
The musical is best known for the songs “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “If I Loved You.” Jones said the latter is her favorite song from her 60-year career.
Set in 1880s Maine, “Carousel” is the story of Julie Jordan (Jones), a mill worker, and Billy Bigelow (MacRae), a carnival barker, who fall in love and marry. They face hard times after both lose their jobs. Billy turns to crime and dies, then comes back from the afterlife for one day to make amends.
Of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s five great musicals (“Oklahoma,” “South Pacific,” “The King and I” and “The Sound of Music” were their others), “Carousel” had the shortest run on Broadway, despite being the most highly regarded by many critics.
It’s also the only one of the five that didn’t win an Oscar, or even a nomination.
Frank Sinatra was originally cast as Billy Bigelow for the movie, but he walked off the set when he discovered each scene was to be filmed twice — once in regular 35mm CinemaScope and a second time in the new 55mm format. After MacRae arrived, a method was discovered that ended the need to double-film.
Some sources say Judy Garland was considered for the role of Julie.
Reports have circulated for several years that Hugh Jackman wants to remake the movie, possibly with Anne Hathaway.
For the Omaha event, Crawford said, Mandy MacRae Daley will bring memorabilia from her father’s movie career. The Jitter Brats, a local dance troupe, will perform “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over,” a big chorus number from the movie, in the Joslyn’s fountain court before the screening.
Crawford also said artist Nicolosi has designed a commemorative postage stamp and envelope honoring Rodgers, Hammerstein, Jones and MacRae. An unveiling will happen while Jones is in town, though the timing is not yet finalized.
Crawford said DVDs of Jones’ movies will be on sale at the event for autographing.
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