Lucille Lortel Theatre
March 10, 2012 matinee performance
Background: The original Broadway production of Carrie opened in 1988 and ran for five performances before closing despite sold out performances. Now a revamped, re-imagined production of Carrie is running off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. The first thing that sparked my interest in the new production of Carrie was a cast of familiar names. Marin Mazzie... need I say more? Christy Altomare... Wendla in the Spring Awakening tour. Carmen Cusack... Elphaba in the Wicked tour and Nellie in the South Pacific tour. Then, I noticed that the “re-imagined” Carrie was getting a lot of press and I started thinking, how exactly are they going to portray a horror movie on stage? I became curious... and then kind of excited at the possibility of seeing something different and unique. Then, I watched the movie for the first time and became REALLY curious...
Synopsis: Carrie White is a 17-year old misfit who has been bullied by cruel classmates for her entire life. Raised by an overprotective, religious fanatic mother, Carrie has known little outside of the Holy Bible when she realizes that she possesses telekinetic powers. Carrie tells the story of a girl struggling to break free of her mother’s firm grasp and fit in, but this ultimately has devastating results.
Comments: I was pleasantly surprised by Carrie. It was a wonderful show and not at all what I expected. I was expecting something over the top... gory... messy...macabre. The book WAS written by Stephen King after all. But what struck me the most about Carrie the musical is that it’s really NOT a horror story at all. It has more to do with human nature, relationships, and of course, the consequences of bullying and religious oppression, which is very much relevant in society today with all of the violence in schools.
The cast was excellent. Molly Ranson was amazing as the title character. First of all, she has a beautiful singing voice. Everything about her acting- her demeanor, her mannerisms, her speech, her facial expressions- was believable. One of my favorite scenes was at the end of Act I when Carrie threatens her mother and then proceeds to eat her pie. Eerily funny and brilliant.
Marin Mazzie has taken on another demanding role just a year after completing a Broadway run as Diana in Next to Normal, and as expected, she was amazing. Her performance was completely authentic as Carrie’s controlling, desperate, fanatical mother. She somehow succeeds in not portraying Margaret as too loathsome, but rather as a mother looking out for what she believes is best for her daughter. In a very skewed way, of course.
Playing the role of Sue Snell, the mean-turned-nice girl who sacrifices her prom for Carrie’s benefit, is Christy Altomare. This character takes on the role of narrator, guiding the story forward and Christy does this very well, making the character both likable and relatable for the audience. She is perfect at portraying this kind, sweet, guilt-ridden character, whose actions unintentionally backfire.
Carmen Cusack provided a lot of comic relief as the gym teacher, Miss Gardner. Jeanna de Waal had a wonderful voice and gave a great performance of “The World According to Chris”. Derek Klena as Tommy was charmingly cute and Ben Thompson as Billy also provided comic relief! I was very impressed with the supporting cast.
The Verdict: Forget what you think you know about Carrie and go check out this “re-imagined” musical at the Lucille Lortel Theatre before April 8th. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
P.S. This show is completely worthy of a cast recording...