I thought for sure that a musical based on a Stephen King novel could not be serious. I’d even told friends I was going to see a parody of King’s ‘Carrie’, written by Lawrence D Cohen and music by Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford and playing at the Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre. I may have sold it on that premise to my theatre companion when I saw it on Friday night because how can you represent a girl with telekinesis, the religious zealot that is Carrie’s mother, a group of vicious school bullies and an unfortunate incident at prom in song and dance? Surely can’t be done.
Umm…wrong on all counts. Done and delivered by Squabbalogic under the direction of Jay James-Moody, musical direction of Mark Chamberlain, choreography of Shondelle Pratt and a very talented cast and crew. Well dip me in a bucket of pig’s blood and call it legitimate entertainment for that’s what ‘Carrie. The Musical’ is.
This show is as polished and professional as any big shot show I’ve ever seen. ‘Carrie. The Musical’ has integrity in its material and execution and under James-Moody’s directorial talent, this musical captures the essence and mood of King’s novel.
Sean Minahan’s set expresses the supernatural, destitute, abandoned world of this play and its social attitudes in the scaffolded ghost-like interiors. It’s also a lovely metaphor for Carrie and the world she inhabits- not quite formed, haunted by shadows of the past, repressed and painful and dying to become whole. Mikey Rice has created a series of impressive lighting effects- boxing in the spotlight and enhanced by Jessica James-Moody’s sound design, we get to jump between the present world of survivor Sue Snell (Adele Parkinson) and the events of the play as recounted in action and ensemble with a slick theatricality and tension.
I’ll admit, I did drift off during some of the songs but for the most part, the cast were terrific, especially lead actress Hilary Cole as Carrie. She was an exceptional performer in belief, vocals and movement. I never doubted her dilemma and the effect it was having on her. But this is a great ensemble piece and interactions such as innocent do-gooders and young lovers Snell (Parkinson) and Tommy Ross (Rob Johnson) or bitter bully Chris Hargensen’s (Prudence Holloway) song in homage to daddy; Carrie (Cole) and her mother Margaret’s (Margi de Ferranti) troubled and abusive relationship shown in Carrie’s imprisonment, or the comic byplay of Norma Watson’s (Monique Salle) plotting and teasing or teacher Lynn Gardiner's (Bridget Keating) attempt to help are just some of the highlights of this show.
I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and even if you’re no fan of Stephen King (I’m still getting therapy for ‘The Shining’), this show will convert you to the horror of King’s novels in the nicest form possible.
So skip the school formal and venture into the world of ‘Carrie. The Musical’ before something nasty happens.