This past weekend, the Miami Theater Players (a fully student-run theater organization on campus) held their Spring production of “Carrie: The Musical.”
Based on the 1976 film of the same name, the musical adaption first premiered in England, and after receiving mixed-reviews from audiences and critics, made a bold $8 million move to Broadway in 1988. The show went down as one of the most infamous Broadway flops of all time, with scattered boos being heard during the curtain call each night and closing after only 16 previews and five performances. In 2012, the show was revamped and modernized, and made its off-Broadway premiere to a much more welcoming audience.
I didn’t love “Carrie.” In comparison to other movie to musical adaptions, like “Heathers: The Musical,” which premiered off-Broadway in 2014, definitely has some weak spots. The plot itself doesn’t translate to stage too well, and most of the songs seemed like trying to force a square peg into a round hole.
The Miami cast and crew, however, did a marvelous job at putting on this infamous show. The sets weren’t too extravagant, but they were definitely enough to transport audience members into Carrie’s world.
Speaking of Carrie’s world, for those who have never seen the 1976 version of the film or the 2013 remake, the basic plot follows Carrie White (Lauren Rein), an introverted high-schooler deemed an outcast by her classmates. Carrie is sheltered, to say the least, due to her mother Margaret’s (Rosemary Walter) hyper-religious views of the world. In one of the first few scenes of the play, Carrie gets her period for the first time, and is harassed by her classmates for not knowing what was happening.
Rein and Walter did an amazing job at capturing the tense, confusing and ultimately loving relationship between Carrie and Margaret. Multiple times throughout the show, Margaret punished Carrie for acting like a “inner,” as she put it (most memorably during “And Eve Was Weak,” where Walter’s haunting vocals were simultaneously beautiful and terrifying).
Other vocal standouts were Ally Brewer (who played Chris Hargensen), Kevin Burns (who played Billy Nolan), Emily Passik (who played Miss Gardner) and Rein, who took center stage and stole the show during the climax of the show.
Carrie White may be the one murderer in popular media who you can’t help but root for. People were really mean to Carrie, and Rein’s portrayal made it all the more heartbreaking. Besides the obvious things that made Carrie stand out, like her wardrobe of long skirts and big sweaters, Rein also embodied the character well, bringing in quirks that were unique to this performance. She added clever idiosyncracies and mannerisms to the character that made the audience relate to her and understand her plight, which was a valuable addition to the performance.
When prom night comes, and Carrie is tricked into winning prom queen only to get a bucket of blood dumped on her, you really can’t blame her for what happens next. In the most famous scene from all adaptions of “Carrie,” Carrie uses her telekinetic powers (I may have forgotten to mention that Carrie has telekinetic powers- definitely a plot point that you don’t want to miss) to destroy the gymnasium and murder everyone inside. Like I said before, you can’t really be mad about it. She’s really gone through a lot.
Things only get worse for Carrie when she arrives home and seeks comfort in her mother, who stabs her, causing Carrie to kill her, before dying herself. It got confusing, I gasped multiple times throughout the scene.
The show ends with the same line it begins with: Carrie’s classmate, Sue Snell (Taylor Spafford) recounting the events of prom night to the police. Sue was the only survivor of her graduating class, as she felt guilty about teasing Carrie and sent her boyfriend, Tommy Ross (Sam Eisenbaum) to go to prom with her. Spafford was great in the role, and Sue as the only survivor was kind of nice, since she was the only character to ever show some remorse for Carrie (besides Miss Gardiner, who definitely should have lived, and I still don’t fully understand why Carrie killed her).
While “Carrie” as a musical definitely has its flaws, most notably the music being too literal as to what was going on in that moment (“The World According To Chris,” is about the world, according to Chris), it was still a great production by the Miami Players, who continue to deliver great performances each semester!