Review: CARRIE at First Stage Theatre in Hamburg

By: Sep. 03, 2019
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Review: CARRIE at First Stage Theatre in Hamburg

Carrie - The Musical was the final production of this year's graduating class of the Stage School in Hamburg. Felix Löwy and Lauren Slater-Klein directed the show. It was produced by Thomes Gehle and performed 40 times this July and August at the First Stage Theatre.

The musical's book is by Lawrence D. Cohen, with lyrics by Dean Pitchford and music by Michael Gore. The story is based on Stephen King's novel Carrie, published in 1974. It is about a teenage girl who is raised by her religious fanatic mother. Bullied at school and oppressed by her classmates, she unleashes telekinetic powers which lead to a fatal climax at the school's prom night.

The odds were against the show. The musical had a poor run back in 1988 when the show closed after only five performances on Broadway. But the cult was born, and twenty four years later a limited engagement as an Off-Broadway revival followed - with a revised book and new songs. Meanwhile, a new type of musical with contemporary scores had been developed. Shows like "Spring Awakening" or "Dear Evan Hansen" became popular and "Carrie" could find its place among them. This explains why the Stage School in Hamburg decided on that show.

The set design is impressive. Massive barricades frame the stage with a scaffold in the back. The lightening design complements the setting and creates the "scary" moments. Before the show and during the interval, the stage is secured by a police tape. This perfectly supports the opening scenery: the interrogation of the only survivor of the prom night, Susan Snell. She describes the activities which lead to the cruel ending. The questioning returns during the show and in the end, which frames the musical.

Carrie White, the strange outsider and ugly duckling, is played by Lorena Dehmelt, who performs her powerful introduction song "Carrie" with a strong and clear voice. Although Lorena Dehmelt's career is only about to start, she believably shows Carrie as a bullied but intense character, not to mention the complex songs which were probably not learnt easily.

It is a clever strategic decision by the producers to cast Maya Hakvoort as Carrie's mother, Margaret White. Being one of the most popular musical theatre artists in Germany, Austria and her home country The Netherlands, she is best known for her role as Elisabeth in the successful long- run show Elisabeth - The Musical. She recently reprised Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, and she produced "Next to Normal" as well as "Blood Brothers". Maya Hakvoort is a true professional. She gives a perfect portrayal of the religious and fanatic mother; every move and gesture as well as her singing perfectly fit to the role. She brings a professional touch to the show without taking centre stage. Also, she works perfectly with Lorena Dehmelt without outshining her. Her performance of "Wenn sie fort ist" ("When there is no one") is a highlight in the second act and probably moved everyone in the audience.

The other main characters are Susan, Tommy and Chris. Susan (Larissa Pyne) and Tommy (Tim Taucher) play the couple who realize that the class' behaviour against Carrie couldn't be right and they try to change things. On the other hand, there is Chris (Alexandra Nikolina) who is the ringleader and who supports the bullying against Carrie. These graduates show an enthusiastic and convincing performance.

Surely, it is not a mainstream musical and it will probably never be. But it tells the story of young people who are uncertain about their future; it focuses on bullying, which is always up to date, and it deals with religious fanaticism, a present topic in these days. Maybe working on an "underdog" musical especially encourages the young people to perform with 100% passion and love for their new job.

More information about the upcoming program at the First Stage Theatre can be found through:

Photo Credit: Dennis Mundkowski


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