BWW Review: CARRIE THE MUSICAL at SNAP! Productions
Carrie The Musical: Gripping Musical Horror, Yet Powerfully Tragic
Inside a dimly lit black box theatre you feel the darkness engulfing you as the opening act reveals that only one student, Sue Snell, survived the supernatural breakdown of Carrie White. Sue, played by Paloma Power, is popular and Carrie, Gigi Hausman, an outcast. Throughout Act I we see that Carrie is relentlessly bullied and tormented by her high school peers. Directed by Todd Brooks, SNAP! Productions takes you inside the eerie and bleak world of paranormally gifted yet religiously brought up Carrie White.
Carrie the Musical tells the dark tale of Stephen King's 1974 horror novel and 1976 film Carrie about the outcast girl with abnormal abilities who unleashes her fury on her classmates at prom, betrayed by her own piously and delusional mother who makes an attempt on her life in order to save her soul.
Sanguine themes are found throughout the story and translate into the musical rendition as a strong thematic element. Blood. From beginning to end, Carrie is dripping with several graphic motifs. When Carrie unexpectedly enters womanhood one day at school, and is mercilessly berated and teased for not knowing the normalcy she is going through, she is met with an even more terrifying realization back at home. That she, like Eve in the bible, is evil and wicked from the curse of blood that was passed down to her because of the fact she is a woman.
Pray for your soul, Carrie, her mother admonishes. Carrie is different, set apart from the world and now she is becoming like them. Heathens and sinners. Religious fanaticism runs rampant in the White home. Extreme fundamentalism and warped ways of thinking about womanhood, secularism, sin, and retribution all resonate strongly throughout, and paint a picture of what horrors Carrie has been subjected to growing up.
A Madonna-whore character trope is present. Carrie is innocent, naïve, and sheltered. She discovers with her coming of age that she also possesses psychic powers-telekinesis in fact, which her mother views as witchcraft once she catches wind of it. Her pristine virgin daughter in her eyes is no better than a lady of the night when Carrie defies her wishes against going to prom with a boy. Ironically it's Carrie's own powers that save her from the eternal damnation of her mother's judgment. Chris Hargensen, the provocative nemesis who has a vendetta against Carrie White for ruining her prom night, concocts a revenge-soaked plan to get even.
Hausman is compelling as Carrie White, and raw in her tragic portrayal with the perfect mix of classic soprano and grit. A transformation from evil to good and good to evil juxtaposes between the characters of Carrie White and Sue Snell. What does it cost to be kind? Sue goes from mean girl, to angelic, almost saintly, which ultimately saves her life. Paloma Power is dynamic and transformative in her characterization as Sue, and softens with a refined belt and lovely soprano vibrato.
Laurel Rothamel as Chris soars with powerhouse vocals and a high, developed belt. Her mean girl portrayal of Chris rivals that of any queen bee. In essence, she "slays." Mike Burns as Billy Nolan plays a cool but devoted boyfriend and his duet with Power is a nice contrast to the otherwise macabre vibe of ballads and ensemble numbers.
While the story itself is daunting, disturbing, shocking and edgy, the music is exactly what you would expect from a musical written in the 1980's and recently revived on Broadway in 2012. Written by Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford, Carrie the Musical offers a bevy of rock songs filled with angst, tinged with an acrimonious teenage rite of passage. Love ballads, and duets beautify the otherwise eerie sense you get from watching the demise of Carrie, a victim of vicious bullying and religious abuse.
Impressive, raw vocal talent from the cast, "Carrie," is a hit that is so relative to today. It's modern, it's bloody, and it is not for the faint of heart. But if you enjoy the classic or the horror genre set to music, then this will keep you gripping the edge of your seat as the action plays out all around you. It's a very interactive experience to see Carrie The Musical, and one that definitely sits with you. The cast is so cohesive and fluid that you won't miss a beat. Everyone is excellent at their craft and is top notch performers.
Bravo to the cast of Carrie, The Musical, it is a night you'll never forget.
It's not too late, catch the show through June 25th.