Thursday, 2 October 2014

Carrie: The Musical, Oct 1, 2014 ***

Book by Lawrence D Cohen; Music & lyrics by Michael Gore & Dean Pitchford
Based on the novel by Stephen King
By Ghost Light with Moving Light Productions
At Chapel off Chapel, Prahran Sept 25 to Oct 12, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Wed, Oct 1, 2014
Stars: ***
Review also published in Herald Sun on Friday, Oct 3, 2014. KH
 CARRIE Emily Milledge, Chelsea Gibb

When you see Carrie: The Musical, don’t expect the same supernatural horror that characterised the 1976 film with Sissie Spacek or Stephen King’s original novel.

Instead, Carrie: The Musical is more of an American teen musical with just a tinge of gothic schlock.

This production, directed by Terence O’Connell and choreographed by Lisa Minett, is based on the rewritten, revived 2012 musical version, rather than on the original, 1988 version that was a very expensive flop.

Carrie White, (Emily Milledge) is a peculiar, reclusive and devout 17 year-old in her final year of high school where her classmates, particularly the mean-spirited, popular girls, bully and humiliate her mercilessly. 

However, their abuse looks tame compared to Carrie’s newly discovered telekinetic powers that eventually wreak havoc on the school Prom and dispose of her tormentors in a gory finale.

Milledge, whose pale, fragile appearance is strangely otherworldly, plays shy Carrie with an eerie, twitching quality that becomes a little repetitive but captures the peculiarity of the misfit that makes Carrie a target for bullies.

Milledge’s light voice suits the adolescent Carrie and her rendition of Why Not Me?, Carrie’s musings as she dresses for the Prom, is touching, although her generally sweet tone becomes a little harsh and she hits an occasional flat note when she sings with more power.

The exceptional Chelsea Gibb plays Carrie’s mother, Margaret, and is the musical highlight of this production with her mature, rich voice and nuanced performance, particularly in her moving solo, When There’s No One.
Gibb plays Margaret with a wild-eyed, frantic piety that is more religious psychosis than Christianity. Margaret uses the Bible as a weapon against her daughter, accusing Carrie of being a sinner when she menstruates for the first time and of being a witch when she witnesses her telekinetic powers.

Gibb and Milledge sing the charming duet, Stay Here Inside, with the sense of a loving mother and daughter facing impending doom.

Kathleen Amarant is commendable as the supportive teacher, Miss Gardner, and her duet with Milledge, Unsuspecting Hearts, is heart-warming.

Hollie James is sympathetic as Sue, the only student who tries to help Carrie, and she establishes the sense of looming disaster as police interrogate her about the events leading up to Prom night.

Chernae Howlett is suitably sassy and nasty as Chris, and Jack O’Riley plays Tommy as a naive, nice-guy, but the chorus as a whole often looks awkward in their roles as Carrie’s classmates.

The music and lyrics (Michael Gore, Dean Pitchford) are not memorable and the show feels a little tame and lacking the heightened drama that might accompany the murder and mayhem arising from Carrie’s supernatural powers.

The show is entertaining enough but one can see why Carrie – the Musical has not become a huge, international hit.

By Kate Herbert
                     Emily Milledge & Cast                                    Emily Milledge, Chelsea Gibb
CHELSEA GIBB  as Margaret White 
EMILY MILLEDGE as Carrie White 

ROSS CHISARI (Billy Nolan)
ALANA TRANTER (U/s Margaret White/Miss Gardner)
STEPHEN WHEAT (Mr. Stephens)

Creative team

Book by Lawrence D Cohen (Nightmares And Dreamscapes) adapted from screenplay

Music & lyrics by Michael Gore (Fame) and Dean Pitchford (Footloose)
Directed by Terence O'Connell
Choreographed by Lisa Minett
Lighting by Jason Bovaird
Design by Jacob Battista
Musical supervision by David Piper


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