By Kyle Osborne
How could you not want to see a Broadway musical that made history—a show that remains part of showbiz lore?
Carrie: The Musical, which opened on Broadway in 1988, and quickly closed after five official performances, was one of the biggest belly flops in theatre history. The very idea of making a stage musical based on Stephen King’s novel turned 1976 Brian DePalma horror film demands at least a snort, if not a cackle. What were they thinking? Don’t you love it?
This is why I love Studio Theatre. They love a challenge, and almost always rise to the occasion.
There is a way to enjoy their production of Carrie: The Musical. They way in is to simply forget everything you’ve ever known about the story and let this presentation stand on its own merits.
As directed by Keith Alan Baker and Jacob Janssen, the flawed but likeable production works in its depiction of current day themes of bullying—whether by high school kids or religious zealotry—the story of a bullied ugly duckling finding her way and getting her revenge is both old-fashioned and particularly timely.
Carrie, the quiet outsider who lives with her religious Mother, a nut ball who often locks Carrie into a closet for “her own good”, is a misunderstood ugly duckling, but don’t make her mad—she has powers of Telekinesis, which she discovers to her own surprise. These powers will come in handy later.
If you think too much about the movie, you’ll be disappointed by the lack of the bat shit craziness that Piper Laurie (and Julianne Moore in the re-make) infused into the borderline camp. In this production, “Mom” is a tragic figure with a beautiful singing voice—not exactly scary.
And you’ll want to forget the climactic “bucket o’ blood” scene in the movie, which is quite ANTI-climactic in this version.
Taken on its own, the musical features great singing and choreography—a killer band (hidden behind a wall) and surprisingly crisp and well mixed sound, especially for the relatively small space.
I’m hoping the production will be extended—but see if you can get a ticket for this last weekend, in case there have been cancellations at: http://www.studiotheatre.org/