CARRIE THE MUSICAL
BATS Theatre, The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
21/06/2017 - 01/07/2017
WINNER – Best Musical Revival (2012 Off Broadway Alliance Awards)
The Girl. The Blood. The Power!
“A stunning, bloody explosion of chaos and mayhem … at once gripping, horrifying and beautifully moving. Powerful, compelling theater at its best.” – The Orange County Register
From its infamous roots in the pantheon of horror, you’ve never seen a musical thriller quite like this!
Carrie the Musical is a deliciously dark and visceral production about a high school prank gone horribly wrong. When high school bullies and a twisted evangelical mother terrorise 17-year-old Carrie White, a primal and destructive power is unshackled, hell bent on retribution and out for blood!
Based on the legendary novel by Stephen King, this harrowing tale of terror and full-throttle musical experience exposes the darkness within us all.
So, pick your date to the dance and meet this year’s reigning prom queen – up close and personal. It’s going to be a night you’ll never forget!
With an outstanding cast including Eryn Rose Street as Carrie and Julie O’Brien as Margaret White, this dark, ominous and energetic production is the must see show this winter… if you dare!
BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace
20 June – 1 July
Tues – Sat 8pm
Tickets: Adult $22 / Concession $18
book: www.bats.co.nz / (04) 802 4175
Please note: Carrie the Musical contains colourful language, adult themes and disturbing scenes. Not suitable for children. Audience members in the front row may get splashed by blood effects used in the show.
Carrie the Musical is presented by permission of ORiGiN™ Theatrical on behalf of R&H Theatricals; www.rnh.com. It is a theatrical adaptation of Stephen King's first published novel, Carrie, with the musical book written by Lawrence D Cohen (screenwriter of the classic film), music by Michael Gore (Fame, Terms of Endearment) and lyrics by Dean Pitchford (Fame, Footloose).
Carrie the Musical is brought to New Zealand by WITCH, a Wellington-based theatre company recently founded by Ben Emerson (Director for Carrie) and Jennifer Howes (Production Manager for Carrie). WITCH aims to create exciting and visceral theatre for the local stage and to fulfil audiences with emotional dynamism while strengthening and upholding passionate, local artistry. WITCH exists to connect and share in those exceptional moments in art, where all else fades away and something clicks, creating something truly magic.
Creative team for Carrie the Musical:
Ben Emerson (Director),
Michael Nicholas Williams (Musical Director),
James Cain (Assistant Director),
Jonathan Morgan (Choreographer),
Annie O'Connor (Assistant Choreographer).
Carrie's remarkable cast includes
Julie O'Brien (Margaret White),
Eryn Street (Carrie White),
Flora Llyod (Sue Snell).
Natasha Sime (Chris Hargensen);
Konrad Makisi (Tommy Ross);
Simon Jackson (Billy Nolan) and
Anna Dahya (Miss Gardner),
Theatre , Musical ,
High-octane Carrie excels in quieter moments
Review by Ewen Coleman 22nd Jun 2017
In what could be considered a break from tradition, Bats Theatre is currently presenting a fully-fledged Broadway musical, rather than its usual fare of short, sharp locally written plays. And the full-on production of Carrie: The Musical is certainly staged in a way that would normally be seen in a much larger venue.
But nevertheless, it works, and director Ben Emerson and musical director Michael Nicholas Williams have pulled out all the stops in bringing together a very talented cast to create a fast-flowing and highly energised show. [More]
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Impressive juxtaposition of different emotional dynamics
Review by Pepe Becker 22nd Jun 2017
A woman stands in the glare of an interrogation room, with chaotic overlapping radio voices in the background, an ominous rumbling from below and the hum of florescent light from above – something terrible has happened. “Tell us about Carrie White…”
Carrie, the debut novel by Stephen King, is a tale of adolescent anguish, angst and rage. It tells of a teenager – awkward, gangling, outcast – bullied by her peers and alternately terrorised and smothered by her religiously fanatical, over-protective mother. She lives in fear of her own body and burgeoning sexuality.
So far, so normal… But, this being a King novel, she also possesses blossoming telekinetic powers. A hurricane waiting to happen – and when she has her one moment of acceptance and joy washed from her in a very literal torrent of blood, she unleashes the full storm of her fury.
The book has been twice adapted to film… but, it does not exactly have ‘successful Broadway play’ written all over it. Quite the opposite. When it first hit the Broadway stage in 1988 – a version penned by Lawrence D Cohen (who scripted the still-admired 1976 Brian De Palma movie starring Sissy Spacek) with lyrics by Dean Pritchford (of Fame and Footloose fame) and music by Michael Gore (Fame, Terms of Endearment) – it was met with a curious mixture of responses. There were boos, catcalls and standing ovations (within the same performances); acidic critiques and sold-out houses. After a mere handful of performances, the producers yanked it from the stage and history deemed it the most expensive flop in Broadway history.
And perhaps that is how it would have been remembered if the same writers and composers hadn’t dragged it out of its blood-soaked retirement, re-vamped and revised it and smuggled it onto the off-Broadway circuit from 2012 onwards.
So, now it makes it to the stage in Wellington – in a grittier, more contemporary production than the original, which still retains a definite ’80s feel (especially in some of the fab musical effects and hairstyles/clothing) – as blood-soaked, religion-scarred and filled to the brim with pubescent wrath as King intended.
The opening chorus of high-voltage teenagers hits us with immediate impact, strong harmonies and great facial expressions – exaggerating the energy and self-obsessed angst of youth. We witness funky dance moves and a quick costume change into gym gear, followed by more energetic dancing and singing, before we gradually become aware of Carrie’s quiet and awkward presence in the mix.
Some of the part-singing is bordering on shouty, and this sets the aural scene for more ‘belty’ brashness and in-your-face nasality to come. Occasionally in this musical style some singers over-push the voice, resulting in a slight flatness of pitch, whilst others (in higher passages) occasionally go ‘off the voice’, resulting in sharpness or unsupported breathiness. However, for the most part, the singing is perfect for the context, and there are wonderful dynamic and tonal contrasts throughout the show.
In fact, the juxtaposition of different emotional dynamics – portrayed excellently in the music (brilliantly arranged and played by musical director Michael Nicholas Williams and fellow keyboardist Kate Marshall), the movement (expertly choreographed by Jonathan Morgan), the acting and the staging/lighting (big thumbs up to set designer Ben Emerson, sound designer Patrick Barnes and lighting designer Haami Hawkins) – is what strikes me as the most masterful and inspired aspect of this production. One of my favourite moments is the juxtaposition of intentions between two couples in the chorus “do me a favour”, where one is asking for help to get revenge and the other is asking for help to make amends.
The music is very well-written, with subtly recurring thematic/intervallic threads (such as the descending fifth, which amazingly sounds pure in one context and menacing or ominous in another – the latter achieved even without the more obvious addition of ‘la diabola in musica’, the augmented 4th) and clever interweaving of previously-heard tunes at crucial moments of plot layering.
Carrie herself is a curious mixture of vulnerable and fierce, and her character is insightfully sung and acted by Eryn Street, who carries (excuse the pun) us with her all the way on her emotional roller coaster ride – from coming to terms with having her bleeding ‘period’ for the first time, to having the reign of blood (that her mother had predicted) become a literal rain of blood upon her.
The main influences in Carrie’s life – her mother, her peers and her teachers – are all similarly well-cast and well-played. Chris, the class bully is played by Natasha Sime, who has the perfect look and demeanour for this role – and although her singing isn’t as strong as it could be initially, her voice strengthens somewhat to match her sinister intentions when scheming with the sneering and too-cool-to-move ‘bad’ Billy (aptly played by Simon Jackson).
Flora Lloyd sensitively draws us in as she tries to make amends to Carrie for the group teasing, and she and the sweet-voiced Konrad Makisi (who plays her sweet-natured boyfriend Tommy) provide a personal highlight for me in their heartfelt, beautifully-sung pre-prom duet.
PE teacher Miss Gardner (Anna Dahya) also has some lovely moments duetting with Carrie as she takes her under her wing and gives supportive advice, and I enjoy Matthew Simes’s funny and flustered portrayal of the long-suffering English teacher. It’s great that the show has many opportunities for laughter, despite its brooding and horrific subject matter.
Not so humorous is the role of Margaret White, Carrie’s religiously tormented and tormenting mother, artfully and heartfully played and sung by Julie O’Brien. The complex mother-daughter relationship is very well-paced by both O’Brien and Street, with a particularly dramatic scene being the turning point when Carrie discovers she can use her powers at will and decides to stand up to her mother’s overbearing authority. The swinging from love and loyalty to fear and dread is portrayed movingly in both their singing.
From the small details (such as clever musical nuances, or the clever enactment of telekinesis using simple but effective hidden devices and apt sound-effects) to the overall theme and story arc, this show has an emotional energy that’s fully engaged and engaging. Congratulations to director Ben Emerson and his whole team on bringing it to life!
One doesn’t expect to enjoy, so much as be intrigued or shocked by, a horror-drama such as this, but I highly recommend the ride!
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