After the 1988 Broadway flop, Carrie is revived at the Southwark Playhouse by a young vibrant cast under the direction of Gary Lloyd. I was not familiar with the musical, though I associated the name with a horror story. Carrie is much more in line with High School Musical with a dark twist than with any horror plot. Then again, it is the musical version – how dark could it get?
I am always fascinated with the power of music and dance in the theatre – these art forms are so powerful and they can greatly enhance the storytelling and make your theatre experience a ‘night you’ll never forget’. However if we keep making the same mistakes when creating musical theatre pieces they will never reach their full potential. Story wise, Carrie the musical has all the stereotypical characters one can imagine – the weird girl, the charming, the goody, the bitchy, and so on. Musically speaking the evaluation is not much better: many songs do not progress the action and become merely a vocal show-off that diverts from the story. Further more, the lyrics are uninventive and the plot is absolutely predictable. So this is not immediately an easy piece of work to take on. Still I am struck by some very powerful moments in this production.
The opening number ‘In’ is very impressive and I get chills when Evelyn Hoskins (Carrie) suddenly bursts into singing the number ‘Carrie’. The cast are undoubtedly strong and all the ensemble songs are far more compelling to watch than the solo numbers with a few exceptions. I particularly enjoy the truth Sarah McNicholas’ brings to Sue’s character. Both McNicholas and Greg Miller-Burns (as Tommy) are adorable to watch and I feel they accurately portray that young and genuine love.
On the other side of the spectrum character wise, Gabriella Williams plays Chris Hargensen with a fierce stage presence – it is impossible not to watch her – and it is easy to recognise this bully girl, we have all seen or met the kind of person she represents. I am a bit disappointed with the character of Margaret White played by Kim Criswell – undoubtedly it is a very difficult challenge to portray such a deranged mother, but her craziness and obsession needs to possess her altogether in a much more powerful way and be represented with more than just high pitched or loud singing.
I’m guessing this production of Carrie is a much better version than its original on account of all the changes that are made and its more modern staging so I am glad it has been revived. Nevertheless, it is not an exciting plot and I feel it still needs editing. However, I do commend the cast for their obvious dedication to their work and extraordinary skills for musical theatre. 3/5
Review written by Sofia Moura.
Carrie the Musical is currently showing at The Southwark Playhouse until Saturday 30th May. For more information on the production, visit here…