BWW Review: CARRIE, THE MUSICAL at M&W Theatre Group
In this contemporary musical version of the famous (and infamous) 1978 movie adapted from the 1974 Stephen King novel, "Carrie: The Musical" follows a young woman with telekinetic powers. An outcast at school, where she is bullied viciously for her differences, Carrie (played by the very capable Tianna Cohen) is also lost at home, with a fervently and obsessively religious mother (the powerful Leah Dalrymple) whose love traps her and figuratively and literally wont let her go. When PE teacher Miss Gardner (the vocally strong Jeanette Airen), kind classmate Sue Snell (the poignant Malissa Marlow...who also directs the production), and boyfriend Tommy Ross (Broadway-calibur Noah Canada) reach out to try and help Carrie, it seems that for once, Carrie might have a shot at being accepted. But Chris Hargensen (Choreographer Kena Worthen), the class's most vicious bully along with her whipped boyfriend Billy Nolan (the bleach-blonde Conner Stevens), have other ideas. Pushed to the brink, Carrie's powers threaten to overwhelm her, and destroy everyone around her.
One must give huge kudos for this plucky, fledgling company to put on such a heroic-sized production in such a small, intimate space and on a shoestring budget. I, for one, look forward to this company growing and maturing as the years progress and wish them only much success.
Having said that, this reviewer would be amiss if I did not use this time as a teaching moment.
When one is such a new company working with such constraints, one must focus on the strengths of said company and allow these to flourish. With this company, those strengths are the youth and talent of the cast (as a whole), the possible design aspects of the show, and the space, itself.
For this reviewer, I would rather have seen more focus on each person's specialties rather than everyone taking on multiple roles/jobs. I believe the production suffered for it. There is enough talent to go around within this group. For example, having the director and the choreographer in the cast (and the director as set designer), many opportunities both onstage and within the staging were lost. Having a director in a show is pretty dicey as professionals, but as a new company of youthful performers, there is bound to be too much focus divided. The same goes with the Choreographer in the production...and as a lead. The show I saw, that there was not much of an overview for this production, and it deserved one. Next time...divide and conquer. Delegating can be your best attribute!
Having stated the above, I (however) enjoy seeing such young talent onstage. Worthen's choreography is exuberant and added life to many of the numbers. Although, at times, some of the singing was affected by some of the more advanced movements. Maybe mics or a better mix between stage vocals and the utilized musical tracks would have assisted with better execution.
For her directing debut, Marlow has some wonderful instincts. But again, her time and artistic eye were divided by her jobs as director, actor, set designer.
If you have never seen the musical, this production would be a very palatable introduction. If not for that, then come for the performances of Dalrymple and Canada. And, if nothing else...come to support an up-in-coming live theatre company.
"Carrie, the Musical" is produced by M&W Theatre Group and continues through February 17th.
Single tickets run $20 are on sale online at http://www.metheatre.org and also on Brown Paper Tickets, at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4026898 . The theatre is located at 520 N Western Avenue, Hollywood CA. For additional questions, please contact email@example.com