"Carousel" is, I think, my favorite of Wheeldon's pieces - it brings back memories of his earlier days as a choreographer. I saw the world premiere in 2002, and then four more performances over the course of the 2003 Winter and Spring Seasons.
Back then Wheeldon was still in NYC a good deal of the time, so was able to tweak the sets & choreography over a period on months between November and May. It's not often that a choreographer has the time to continue playing with a piece long after a premiere, and I think it made the world of difference to the ballet. At one point, I had the pleasure of briefly speaking with Wheeldon about the changes from performance to performance, and I got the feeling he was happy to have the chance to play with the ballet and to know that his efforts weren't going un-noticed.
The ballet was originally choreographed on Damian Woetzel & Alexandra Ansanelli - he is a lot older than she (15 years?), but they were an incredible partnership. When they were 'on' there was nothing stopping them and the always fearless Ansanelli would literally hurl herself into Woetzel's arms. In addition, Woetzel, in particular, is a very showy dancer with a bit of experience in musical theatre, so there was always somewhat of a 'Broadway' sensibility to the piece.
Perhaps because I associate it so strongly with Woetzel & Ansanelli, to me the ballet always had a slightly mysterious, doomed feel. Woetzel was very much the older, 'forbidden' man, Ansanelli the giddy, but acting older-than-her years girl who knew better, but was swept into a whirlwind romance. Yet from the beginning, you had the sense that all would not end completely happily.