This musical, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and adapted from the 1974 Stephen King novel, originally premiering in the U.K. in 1988 before a rather unsuccessful and curtailed Broadway run. The revenged fueled thriller follows Carrie White, a shy, unpopular teenage girl, whose lonely life is controlled by an oppressive, strictly religious mother. That is, until she discovers her telekinetic powers. When she is humiliated by her classmates at the high school prom, she uses her powers to unleash chaos on everyone who has caused her pain. SEDOS’ production, directed by Chris Adams, has an enthusiastic cast who make this a fairly successful revival of this cult-classic musical.
Upon entering the theatre, the audience is greeted with the eerie image of Sue Snell, portrayed by Ellie McWilliam, sitting nervously in a lone chair on a broad stage, featuring only a set of three stairs to the back wall and the school’s name plastered onto the wall. As time passed, and more audience members arrived, characters began emerging, allowing for a punchy beginning. The first act began fairly strong and as the show progressed, there were examples of well-formed character decisions, specifically in the title character, played by the very talented Sadie Kempner, and her telekinetic embodiment, represented by Polly Hayes who both in essence and physically presented this tormented and damaged character. However, there is some unnecessary content later on, bulking out this portion of the show. It’s full of redundant teen cliches and unnecessary, unsuccessful attempts at modernizing this story, as well as some clumsy and prolonged set changes, breaking the overall illusion.
The second act contains the majority of the action, and the more noteworthy moments from both the novel and 1976 film. With blood pouring and punchier musical numbers, plus an exciting climatic ending, this act felt more impactful and well-rehearsed as a whole. It certainly leaves the audience wanting more as this climax felt as though it could have been stretched out to prolong the drama and thriller aspect of the show.
Throughout, the singing is consistently strong and well arranged, featuring many opportunities for the whole cast to demonstrate their talent. A notable contribution to this was Nina Zendejas as Margaret, Carrie’s mother. However, the choreography unfortunately left much to be desired. While I would praise the movement of the supernatural scenes, the dances felt stagnant, much too safe and stereotypical of a high school inspired musical.
If you are a fan of this story, there is definitely something to gain from seeing this production> but even if not, you are guaranteed a fun, easy-to-palate musical theatre experience.
Based on the novel by: Stephen King
Adapted by: Lawrence D. Cohen
Music by: Michael Gore
Lyrics by: Dean Pitchford
DIrected by: Chris Adams
Produced by: SEDOS
Carrie: The Musical has completed its run at Bridewell Theatre until 29 October.