Carrie: The Musical
One of the most banned books in libraries across the United States is Stephen King’s 1974 contemporary horror masterpiece, Carrie which tells the story of a bullied teenager with telekinetic powers. Carrie was Mr. King’s first published novel and was soon made into a film that was called an “absolutely spellbinding horror movie,” by Chicago Sun Times film critic, Roger Ebert.
After the classic film came out, there were several adaptations of the story including a television movie, a sequel and an upcoming remake. But, perhaps the most unusual adaptation of the story was a 1988 Broadway musical, which has been revived several times.
From Thursday, October 22 to Saturday, November 7, 2015 The Brunish Theater in the Portland5 complex will present Carrie: The Musical. The play is being produced by Stumptown Theaters and arrives just in time for Halloween.
Although tampon hurdling bullies and pig blood baths are hardly the stuff of typical Broadway musicals, producers in 1988 we’re willing to take a chance on the show, given the enormous success of the film and the incomparable popularity of Mr. King’s novels.
The tryout of the show was produced by The Royal Shakespeare Company in England and was choreographed by renowned choreographer, Debbie Allen who starred in and choreographed the film, Fame. The book for the musical was written by, Lawrence D. Cohen, who wrote the script for the original film version of Carrie and they music was composed by Michael Gore, who wrote the score for Fame.
With all the talent involved in the show, one might think that the musical would be an instant hit. However, the tryout was plagued by technical problems, including the near decapitation of a cast member by a set piece and the fact that dumping a bucket of blood on Carrie’s head, caused her microphone to clog and become inoperable.
In spite of the precarious tryout, the show moved to Broadway where the popularity of the film and book, as well as the presents of film cast member, Betty Buckley as Miss Collins, caused tickets to sell out quickly. Unfortunately, critics panned the show and some audience members even booed at the curtain call. In spite of the high ticket sales, the show closed after only five performances.
Although it did not seem destined for revival, Mr. Gore and Mr. Cohen where determined to make their hard work pay off. They threw out seven songs and replaced them with new ones. This time, the show ran for an entire month before closing. In spite of its short life, it was nominated for several Drama Desk Awards and won Best Musical Revival in the Off-Broadway Alliance Awards.
Tt might seem that the musical version of the teenage revenge story would have been put to bed after all of this but, live theater had not seen the last of Carrie White. In 2015, the musical was revived yet again by The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles. This time, the staging was reimagined and the show received rave reviews from Los Angeles critics. The musical is currently enjoying productions around the country.
Tickets to the show range from $25.00 for previews to $40.00 for evening performances on the weekend. Performances run Thursdays through Saturdays and will begin nightly at 7:30 p.m. There will be matinee performances on Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
Stumptown Stages and the Brunish have a busy season ahead of them. Productions will include: The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical, The adventures of Dex Dickson: Paranormal Dick and Smokey Joe’s Café, which is a review of songs written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller including: “Love Potion #9” and “On Broadway.”
Eliza Gale – PortlandMetroLive.com Contributor
Eliza Gale began her blogging career interviewing aspiring actors and industry professionals on a Los Angeles based website called Curvewire. She started www.elizagalesintervviews in 2012 and has interviewed over three hundred people about their jobs and businesses since then. She has contributed many interviews to 360drinks.com, which is a Portland based happy-hour website. She also writes for Examiner.com and AXS.com.