Review by Amanda Woodbine
It’s always a brave move to turn such a well-known story into a musical and sometimes this pays off, more often than not however it results in a flop. This was the case for Carrie – The Musical’s infamous run on Broadway. A horror musical is a hard-sell, who does it appeal to? Families? No. Retirement homes that offer a trip to the theatre? Definitely not. I can tell you exactly who it appeals to: a 20-something musical theatre lover who craves fantastic performances from actors and musicians – aka ME! What Squabblelogic has done with this musical is inspirational. The casting, orchestra, choreography, set, lighting and special effects were all spot on in my opinion.
For those going into Carrie without the slightest idea of what it is about here is a brief synopsis. Carrie is a teenage girl with an over-the-top religious mother who is hell bent on keeping her safe from the world. Carrie develops telekinetic powers as she is maturing into a young woman. Carrie becomes an outcast and is harassed by her peers continuously throughout the show which eventually leads to a horrifying bloodbath.
I can see how this production only lasted on Broadway for such a short amount of time (after only 16 previews and 5 performances). This show needs to be intimate with a small stage and audience so you feel like you are a part of what is going on – a fly on the wall if you will. Let’s compare the Reginald Theatre at the Seymour Centre with it’s 153 person capacity to the Virginia Theatre in New York with it’s capacity of 1,222. The whole intimate feel of this production would get lost in the immensity of the theatre – trust me, you want to be up close when Carrie goes crazy and feel the horror that the students would have felt trapped in the school auditorium. It gives you shivers and that’s exactly why you want to see something in the horror genre right? Plus, apparently this is the first production to actually dump blood on Carrie’s head – the most important part of the show in my opinion (don’t worry, there isn’t a splash zone so you will not be doused in blood if you are in the first few rows) it seems crazy that any previous production would exchange this for something different, a cast member explained to me that they have just thrown mugs of blood and used LCD screens in the past for this effect and it just doesn’t cut it.
A big congratulations to all the cast is in order, they delivered believable performances matched with exceptional vocals skills. Standouts include Hilary Cole as Carrie, who gave such light and shade to a difficult role. I believe Australia will be seeing more of this talented girl in years to come. Stage veteran Margi de Ferranti as Carrie’s mother Margaret brought an undeniable strength to the show – not only with her renowned voice but in her acting, she was vicious and desperate exactly where she needed to be. Adele Parkinson as Sue Snell and Rob Johnson as Tommy Ross are so believable you cannot help but get caught up in their love story. It is so refreshing to see actors so natural on the stage and they are thoroughly enjoyable to watch. The rest of the cast and ensemble are strong and provide a great support for all of the leads.
If you are a fan of live theatre I think you will enjoy this show. The music, actors’ performances and voices in addition to a gritty, raw feel for the entire show made it the show successful in my opinion. Squabblelogic should be proud of what they have achieved and I strongly recommend getting to The Seymour Centre to see this production if you have time before the 30th of November. My advice, do not go in with any expectations of what you want to see, the show is so much more enjoyable if you go in with an open mind.
Warning: Recommended for 15+, Strobe lighting used.
Squabbalogic Independent Music Theatre presents
CARRIE THE MUSICAL
Music by Michael Gore | lyrics by Dean Pitchford | book by Lawrence D. Cohen | based on the novel by Stephen King
Director Jay James-Moody
Venue: Reginald Theatre | Seymour Centre, Cnr Cleveland St & City Rd, Chippendale NSW
Dates: November 13 – 30, 2013
Tickets: $34 – $42
Bookings: 02 9351 7940 | seymourcentre.com