Since time began, authors of flop musicals have embroidered the legend "if only they hadn't messed it up" on their throw pillows, or wherever it is authors of flop musicals embroider such stuff. The "they" being producers or directors, sometimes choreographers or stars, and — in rare examples — the lyricist blaming the composer or the librettist blaming both.
In some cases, said authors — who over the years have dreamed of "fixing" their little fiasco — ultimately manage to convince someone to bankroll a second try. The number of times the retread works better than the original are all but nonexistent. The main exception seems to be Wright & Forrest's At the Grand, which folded on the road in 1958 and reappeared in 1989 as Grand Hotel; this with a significant chunk of the authors' treasured score ignominiously scrapped in Boston, replaced with songs by a much younger and much better tunesmith.
Add to the annals of forlorn second-chances the 1988 Carrie, which was the stuff of legends when the RSC production flopped in Stratford-upon-Avon (starring Barbara Cook) and went on to altogether bomb at Broadway's Virginia in 1988 (starring Betty Buckley). But what's a little adversity?
|photo by Joan Marcus|
Now we have the original Off-Broadway cast album of Carrie, from Ghostlight. There were audience members who quite liked this revival, and they will no doubt like the CD just as much. To me, the revival seemed like just another poor 1980s rock musical, cryptically resuscitated. Marin Mazzie, in the part formerly essayed by Ms. Cook and Ms. Buckley, did everything one could ask in a difficult role. (Not necessarily difficult to perform, but difficult to make sense of.) Molly Ranson, too, acquitted herself well as the bloody heroine. The score comes across incrementally better on the CD than it did at the Lortel; without all that stuff going on, and without that blaring sound system, we find that the authors are actually telling a story.
But it's still, alas, Carrie.
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