Oscar E Moore

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CARRIE, the musical – Revised telekinetic meltdown

March 13th, 2012 by Oscar E Moore

The curse of CARRIE continues.  Based on the Stephen King novel and revised after becoming one of Broadway’s biggest flops in 1988 (16 previews – 5 performances) by the same persistent creative team -Music by Michael Gore, Lyrics by Dean Pitchford and Book by Lawrence D. Cohen – CARRIE is still a bloody mess. 

It takes place now.  Today.  With cell phones, vulgarity, pig blood and pot mingling with the students of a certain Maine high school preparing for the prom and belittling and badgering Carrie White (Molly Ranson) – a shy and naïve girl who unexpectedly experiences her first period in the showers after a robust gym workout and dreams of one day fitting in with her peers who tease her relentlessly.

Her mother Margaret (Marin Mazzie) a crazed religious fanatic who has her own problems regarding men berates her for what has happened, drags her across the floor and locks her in a closet all the while praying and singing with a quasi operatic Lucia di Lammermoor madness.

What’s worse?  Having to deal with a mother like this at home or being bullied at school and trying to fit in with the likes of Chris the bitch (Jeanna De Waal) and her idiot boyfriend Billy (Ben Thompson) who are banished from the prom by the understanding gym instructor Ms. Gardner (excellently played by understudy Anne Tolpegin)? 

Chris the bitch then seeks revenge on poor Carrie, not knowing of the telekinetic powers possessed by Carrie who doesn’t take to bullying sitting down but takes charge, doing all that she can to make her prom evening memorable after being asked by Tommy (Derek Klena) prompted by his caring and feeling guilty girl friend Sue (Christy Altomare).

The score is full of power ballads that Ms. Mazzie and Ms. Ranson take full advantage of.  I don’t understand why they are so amplified in the intimate Lucille Lortel Theatre where MCC is producing this cut and paste revival.  They both have extremely powerful voices.

Tommy “sings” a story he has “written” to his classmates which has been singled out for excellence and it is lovely – “Dreamer in Disguise”. 

But it’s not until the last scene of the first act “I Remember How Those Boys Could Dance” that you begin to feel for mother and daughter.  And then the book ambles towards the “catastrophic event” which has been told in flashback by Sue the survivor.  Moral:  Stop bullying.  It can be hazardous to your health!

The choreography by Matt Williams is spastic and robotic making the students seem as though they are Zombies.  The lack of meaningful direction by Stafford Arima makes for a disjointed telling of a tale that is well intentioned but just doesn’t work.  The large and talented cast deserves better and so do we.

www.mcctheater.org  Extended through April 22nd.  Photo:  Joan Marcus

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