DIVA TALK: Catching Up With Carrie Star Marin Mazzie

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23 Mar 2012

Marin Mazzie
Marin Mazzie
Photo by Mike Sharkey

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After watching Marin Mazzie's thrillingly intense performances in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal and the current revised revival of the cult classic Carrie, I had actually forgotten that the stellar singing actress possesses such a warm, infectious laugh that she generously sprinkles throughout her conversation. In the Stafford Arima-directed Carrie, the pop musical based on Stephen King's novel about a young woman with telekinetic powers that is now playing the Lucille Lortel Theatre in Greenwich Village, three-time Tony nominee Mazzie is cast as religious fanatic Margaret White, mother of the insecure, bullied Carrie, who is played by Molly Ranson (Jerusalem, August: Osage County). Mazzie, who tears at the heart with an emotional version of "When There's No One," told me last week that working with relative newcomer Ranson has been one of the great joys of this experience. Mazzie, whose Broadway resume also boasts performances in Ragtime; Kiss Me, Kate; and Passion, says her co-star makes "a true transformation [each night]. It's really so exciting to work with her and share the stage with her." Mazzie also spoke about director Arima and the reworking of the musical, which was penned by Academy Award-winning composer Michael Gore, Academy Award-winning lyricist Dean Pitchford and "Carrie" film screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen. (Mazzie will also be joined by her husband, fellow Broadway actor Jason Danieley, for Playbill's Broadway on the High Seas 2 cruise. Click here to check it out.)

Question: When and how did you originally get involved with Carrie?
Marin Mazzie: In 2009 I got a phone call… "Would you like to be in a reading of Carrie — a workshop of Carrie the musical?" And, I went, "Carrie?" [Laughs.]… It then became known to me that Stafford was the director, so I asked for the material to be sent to me — the script and the music… I had a conversation with Stafford, so we talked about the piece and what his thoughts were and what he was intending to do with it, and I got very excited and interested, and so I said that I would do it.

Mazzie and Molly Ranson in Carrie.
photo by Joan Marcus

Question: What about that conversation or what about the role initially enticed you?
Mazzie: …We wanted to give [Margaret] a more human side, and also [there was] the timeliness of what is going on in the world and not only the bullying issue, but the religious right and religious zealotry… Also, Carrie is an abused girl and exploring those elements, but also, wanting the audience to understand Margaret's point-of-view has been my quest and Stafford's quest in creating this… I don't think there's anyone that sits in that audience [who] agrees with what she [does], but they are moved by her, and they have feelings for her, and they understand why she is doing what she is doing, which is because she loves her daughter more than anything, and she believes what she is doing is right. And, I think the challenge of taking this — what's there, what's on the page, what's written —and bringing that to life was a really interesting thing for me.

Question: At that point, were you familiar with the movie or the musical?
Mazzie: No! I had never seen the movie. [Laughs.] I was alive when it came out. I didn't like horror movies. I was scared of them, so I didn't ever go see it. [Laughs.] And, you always see that one clip at the very end, which is, to me, the scariest part of the movie. I have seen the movie now. It's a great movie, and I feel that it's a psycho-drama-thriller [more than a horror film], especially how we look at horror movies today, you know, with "Slasher" — that whole sort of genre. Even when I was a kid, "Dracula" and all of that — I didn't like any of that sort of thing at all. It all scared me. [Laughs.] My brother loved it, and I hated it. So I hadn't ever seen it, but I had seen the '88 production… Quite frankly — and I've said this in a number of interviews — what I have remembered of it are sort of the bad things: the killing of the pig and the weird shower scene. I was a lot younger… I didn't go to the show knowing that it was going to be the iconic flop of all times. [Laughs.] So I just went to the show, and I just remember the bad elements of it for whatever reason… I've never read "Not Since Carrie." I never looked at the video clips online — it never was in my radar, so when they asked me to do it, I didn't really have a great memory… Obviously, I kind of knew what the story was about, but when I really looked at it again and went, "Oh, wow! This is so relevant" and read the novel and looked at the movie and that sort of thing. And, listening to Michael's music and Dean's lyrics and Larry's book, which has changed. All of it's changed so drastically. So that's a long answer to your question! [Laughs.]


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