MCC Theater to Produce Infamous Broadway Flop Carrie

By Andrew Gans
and Adam Hetrick
05 Oct 2010

Original Carrie star  Linzi Hately
Original Carrie star Linzi Hately

MCC Theater co-artistic directors Bernard Telsey and Robert LuPone have announced that the Off-Broadway company will produce the 1988 cult musical Carrie during its 2011-2012 season.

Stafford Arima (Altar Boyz, Tin Pan Alley Rag, Somewhere in Time, London's Ragtime) will direct the musical, which will play the Lucille Lortel Theatre.

The creators of the musical — including composer Michael Gore, lyricist Dean Pitchford and book writer Lawrence D. Cohen — are currently in the process of reworking the book and score. About half of the latter is expected to be different from the original Broadway mounting. In fact, many of the songs, including the second-act opening, "Out for Blood," have been discarded.

No casting has been announced for the Off-Broadway production.



MCC's Telsey told the Times, "Certainly we’re not intimidated by the Broadway blockbuster flop status. By opening Off Broadway, in a smaller and far different production, I think Carrie would receive a fair, fresh look that had nothing to do with its legend."

In a statement librettist Cohen said, "From our perspective, we had no interest in seeing a new production of the exact same show that closed on Broadway." Added composer Gore, "We've revisited the material extensively and embarked on what we're terming a ‘re-imagining’ of the musical."

Director Arima stated, "As our society finally begins to take a serious look at the intense stressors placed upon teenagers and the often tragic consequences of bullying and social ostracism within our schools, the message of Carrie has only become more timely and resonant."

Kevin McCollum and Jeffrey Seller recently mounted a workshop of the musical, which featured Tony Award winner Sutton Foster (Shrek, Thoroughly Modern Millie) as gym teacher Ms. Gardner, Marin Mazzie (Next to Normal, Passion, Ragtime) as Margaret White, Molly Ranson (August: Osage County) as Carrie and Jennifer Damiano (Next to Normal, Spring Awakening) as Sue. The producers decided not to go forward with a production.

For more information on MCC Theater, visit www.mcctheater.org.

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"Carrie" (1974) was Stephen King's first published novel. The book follows a shy teenage girl who is raised by a fanatic Christian fundamentalist mother in a small Maine town. Carrie soon discovers she has telekinetic powers and ultimately uses them to take revenge on the classmates who taunt and humiliate her throughout the novel. "Carrie" was later adapted into a 1976 film starring Sissy Spacek in the title role, with Piper Laurie as her mother and Betty Buckley in a featured role as the gym teacher.

"Fame" songwriters Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford collaborated with "Carrie" screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen on the musical adaptation which premiered at the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1988 starring Linzi Hately as Carrie, with Tony winner Barbara Cook as her mother. The cast also featured Tony nominee Charlotte d'Amboise, Gene Anthony Ray and Darlene Love.

Terry Hands directed the production that featured choreography by Debbie Allen, both of whom repeated their work for Broadway. The musical proved challenging to mount, with numerous special effects and the crucial plot point of dousing its leading lady with buckets of fake blood.

Carrie arrived on Broadway at the Virginia Theatre in April 1988 with Betty Buckley (a veteran of the 1976 film) replacing Cook in the role of Margaret White. Much of the original RSC principal cast, including Hately, d'Amboise, Ray and Love, reprised their performances. Capitalized at over $7 million, Carrie gained cult status for being such an expensive and short-lived Broadway venture. After being derided by critics and leaving audiences divided, Carrie closed on Broadway after playing only 16 previews and 5 performances.