Carrie: The Musical
Carrie: The Musical
Book Lawrence D. Cohen
Music by Michael Gore
Lyrics by Dean Pichford
Directed by Derek Critzer and Sylvia Viles
Music Direction by Tim Turner
Choreography by Steven Johnson
Starring Dorothy Christopher and Jasmine Forsberg
Clandestine Arts Presenting at the ME Theatre
This is my second “Mean Teen” show in a week. When we overdo something here in Orlando, we overdo it to death. With a story line nearly identical to last week’s “Heathers” this show has soldiered on through multiple flops in multiple continents yet Clandestine Arts feels moved to take a shot at the project. The story has been called “Stephen King’s version of Cinderella” but it suffers from uninspiring music, a plot hole or two, and characters who seem to hold the sort of burning hatred for the lead that ISIS reserves for the United States. Carrie (Christopher) grows up in a small town under the thumb of an ultra-religious mother Margret (Wendy Starkand). Mom is determined to keep her child pure to the point Carrie is unaware of what her period is until she’s 17. Carrie is harassed mercilessly until the bitchy Susan (Forsberg) is shamed into niceness by gym coach Miss Gardner (Natalie Doliner). As penance Susan offers up her own boy friend Tommy (Luis Gabriel Diaz) as a prom date, and he convinces Carrie to attend. Carrie even seems to fit in. But the evilest student in school, Chris (Kayla Alvarez), and her 7th year poetry drop out boyfriend Billy (Josh Woodbury) arrange to dump blood on Carrie after they stuff the ballot box for prom Queen. In their minds no humiliation is too great for the inoffensive yet supernatural girl. Oh, I forgot to mention: Carrie inexplicably develops telekinesis during intermission. If there was ever a plot Band-Aid, this is it.
While I didn’t actively dislike this show both Chris and Billy seemed psychotically angry at Carrie for no reason beyond the plot calling for it. Ms. Carrie swung between vulnerable and vindictive; it might help if we saw how she discovered her secret power. Ms. Doliner never seemed to control her charges; and as in so many teen movies the adults seemed written for comic relief. Mother Margaret seemed the worst offender on that count; any attempt by Carrie to talk about her concerns (including all that blood) were rebuffed with biblical platitudes and a burning desire to ignore the world. Some songs nearly escaped the mundane: “Unsuspecting Hearts” was a pleasant ballad between Carrie and her coach, and I put a plus sign next to the title number “Carrie” but for the life of me I can’t recall a lyric or melody. That’s the flaw here; while the notes are played beautifully, songs never seem to establish themselves, and even the closing number “Carrie (Reprise)” seems sad and apologetic for taking up my time.
Given all that, the set was effective (although no real blood was spilled) and the sound excellent even though it was just Mr. Turner on a pair of keyboards. As a performance space the ME theatre is superb with good sight lines, clean acoustics and comfy seats. In tonight’s last scene smoke got a bit heavy and the preshow news flash showing a high school burning was pretty cool. The ME theatre is tough to find; its south of the Florida Mall on an unpromising street that does have a traffic light. This is a show that aims for camp and comes off serious; but like any good monster nothing seems to stop it.
For other events at ME Theatre visit metheatre.com/