You should see Carrie: The Musical because it’s jarring (as expected) and takes you back to high school times in a completely twisted way. It was one of my favorite productions I’ve seen. Prior to seeing Carrie, here are a few tips:
- It’s cocktail attire. Don’t try and be unique. Wear black.
- You’re going to get splashed with blood if you’re in the front row. I wore white. DO NOT wear white.
- Keep your mouth closed. Maybe it’s food dye, maybe it’s pig blood. You don’t want to find out.
Now, on the show:
Carrie was a sweet girl. She was a shy girl pushed too far. “She just cracked,” they’ll say. She was drenched in blood and trying to wrench the prom dress off her body. The scene of a manic similar to the news reels and journalism on Columbine, Sandy Hook, Newtown, Virginia Tech.
Carrie was Stephen King’s first novel and has been recreated into films (most notably the 1976 film starring Sissy Spacek), plays, and a musical. When speaking to a cast member after the show she said the original Broadway production was terrible and quickly ceased performing, but the Off Broadway productions were incredible. This is from the Off Broadway production. Regardless, watch Linzi Hateley sing as Carrie.
The audience is shuffled into a concrete theater with a grimy basketball court as centerpiece. Six rows of fold-out chairs descend upwards and the first scene features a girl’s gym class. There’s unwarranted nostalgia of popularity contests and the locker room tension of teenage bodies. Carrie runs out of the bathroom in a towel with blood streaming down her legs. Screaming, she thinks she’s dying. The girls throw tampons at her limp, bloody body curled in the fetal position on the gym floor.
Flash forward and Carrie’s mother is introduced. The religious tyrant is notably the back burner star of the show, the character limited due to a few scenes relative to other main characters. With her cross in hand and the implication of heartbreak and unfavorable sexual experiences in her past, she storms across the stage showcasing her raging vocals. She’s frightening but exhibits small moments of defeat and despair.
Carrie’s mother and the politics of their mother-daughter relationship is the reason to see the show. When speaking to the actress that plays Carrie, she said that both women were taught by the same incredible vocal instructor, who recently passed away. During the performance the women find themselves getting teary eyed just from remembering their instructor and noticing the same techniques and flares they both learned from her.
Main character Susan battles with feeling sorry for Carrie while being best friends with the girl who consistently terrorizes Carrie. She didn’t stop the bullying but attempts to assuage Carrie’s pain through making her boyfriend ask Carrie to the prom. She doesn’t expect what will come.
Carrie’s finally feels like she’s fitting in. She sews her dress and says, “Mama, I’m going to the dance. That boy asked me and I’m going.” Her mother warns her that they’ll hurt her, she shouldn’t go. This is the final tear between mother and daughter, Carrie walks through the gym doors while her mother slinks to the floor, cross in hand.
Carrie is dancing, Carrie is crowned prom queen, the girls are running with buckets of blood along the outskirts of the basketball court. The couples are holding hands and the audience is experiencing prom again. Carrie stands on a wooden platform with her sash and she’s smiling. The buckets dump.
The lack of focus on telekinesis leading up to the final mass murder scene hints that obtaining the superhuman power is not the main interest, but rather the use of the power. It’s hard not to relate this superiority of power to a gun pointed at those without a weapon. Carrie’s drenched in blood and wailing. She pulls at her hair with wide eyes. The bodies on the stage fall and writhe in the red puddles on the court.
The actress that plays Carrie told me after the show that the directors are, as everyone should be, advocates for anti-bullying and saw this production as a theatrical resurrection of the movement. Considering the recent outstanding focus on school shootings, the directors and actors expressed their issues with how complicit the public has become with shootings. Look at Carrie as a modern bullying story climaxing with students shot dead. Think of the students in the Columbine library. Bullying isn’t proven to be the catalyst for the school shootings, but the speculation is there. Seeing Carrie will take you to the horrifying crime scene.