I forgot about Carnival!, probably because Caroline, or Change was SO good and The Capeman was SO bad. It just got lost in my mind!
Carnival! is one of the weirdest shows that I know anything about, and not really in the good way (just like Finian's Rainbow, which we'll get to in a while, and which I hate. At least as of now). The main story is of Lili, who is comically stupid. I don't know if you guys have taken improv classes, but if you have, you, or one of your classmates, at some point in your early studies, will play a character who knows NOTHING, and for no reason. It's very funny in the moment, but you need to justify WHY they are so stupid and you only have a few options: either they are mentally handicapped (and then you've dug yourself a terrible hole to try to get out of) or they have lived an incredibly sheltered life (and then you need to say WHY their life has been so sheltered -- and again, things can get very sticky and offensive very fast).
So, we don't know why Lili is so stupid. She is, as the main character/disturbing weirdo, Paul, says, "a grown up girl with the mind of a child." Also, he says repeatedly, that that is what he WANTS in a woman... so... there you go.
Anyway, Lili is described by most women who play her as "naive" and "innocent" and "a free spirit" and "full of love" -- which is TRUE, but it doesn't answer the question of WHY and HOW she is like this. Her father just died and she had left the village where she lived -- did something happen to her there? HOW DOES THIS PERSON EXIST?? You can't say that she "just does" because that immediately makes this piece mean nothing.
So, regardless, the music to Carnival! isn't terrible. Lili is an extremely vocally challenging role, and she does have most of the good material in the score. The best song, however, is "Her Face", sung by that misanthrope Paul, which, even out of context, is an excellent stand alone song. There are other characters besides these two (including several puppets which are played by Paul -- and Lili has no idea and thinks they are real), but none of them are very good people and most of their songs are forgettable and/or obnoxious.
Music and Lyrics by Bob Merrill
Book by Michael Stewart