It's Raining (Blood) on Prom Night: Revised Cult Musical Carrie Opens Off-Broadway March 1
By Adam Hetrick
A tormented teen gets a second chance at prom night March 1 when Carrie, the 1988 flop pop musical based on Stephen King's novel about a young woman with telekinetic powers, opens in a newly-revised Off-Broadway production. MCC Theater produces at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in Greenwich Village.
After a short-lived and much-publicized Broadway run, Carrie is back with a refocused story and a handful of new songs thanks to director Stafford Arima (Altar Boyz, Tin Pan Alley Rag, London's Ragtime), who has been working to refine the material over the past several years with the original authors.
Originally staged as a mix of bold, chilling scenes and 1980s high-school camp, Carrie closed on Broadway May 15, 1988, at the Virginia Theatre after only five regular performances. It was the most expensive flop in Broadway history, losing nearly $8 million.
Academy Award-winning composer Michael Gore ("Fame," "Terms of Endearment"), Academy Award-winning lyricist Dean Pitchford ("Fame," "Footloose") and "Carrie" film screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen have returned to work on Carrie, which is now envisioned as a more intimate tale of parental control, bullying and school politics.
For the new Off-Broadway production, Molly Ranson (Jerusalem, August: Osage County) stars in the title role opposite Tony Award nominee Marin Mazzie (Next to Normal, Passion, Ragtime) as her religious-fanatic mother, Margaret White. Carrie began previews Jan. 31 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre and will play an extended run through April 22.
Arima told Playbill.com, "People consider this like a 'horror musical' — in essence, it's not a horror musical. What people experience are horrific situations, perhaps horrific psychological kind of ramifications of relationships between people, but at its core, we're dealing with a human story about a girl who's different — and her relationship with her mother, her relationship with her peers and, inevitably, her relationship with herself. So, I'm hoping that the human story will be the thrust of the piece and the theatrical elements that incorporate menace or dread, maybe come as sprinkles on top of that cake."
The cast also features Christy Altomare as Sue Snell, Carmen Cusack as gym teacher Lynn Gardner, Jeanna de Waal as Chris Hargensen, Derek Klena as Tommy Ross, Ben Thompson as Billy Nolan, Wayne Wilcox as Mr. Stephens, Corey Boardman as George, Blair Goldberg as Norma, F. Michael Haynie as Freddie, Andy Mientus as Stokes, Elly Noble as Helen, Jen Sese as Frieda, Mackenzie Bell, Jake Boyd and Anne Tolpegin.
The creative team includes Matt Williams (choreography), Mary-Mitchell Campbell (music direction and arrangements), David Zinn (set design), Emily Rebholz (costume design), Kevin Adams (lighting design), Sven Ortel (projections design), Jonathan Deans (sound design), Doug Besterman (orchestrations), AnnMarie Milazzo (vocal design), Leah J. Loukas (wig and hair design) and Rick Sordelet (fight director).
A new rush $20 ticket policy for theatregoers under the age of 30 is also in place for performances from March 27-April 22. Arrive two-hours prior to the performance with a valid ID.
Tickets for Carrie begin at $89. Visit mcctheater.org. The Lucille Lortel Theatre is located at 121 Christopher Street.
"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 Gore and Pitchford collaborated with "Carrie" screenwriter Cohen on the musical adaptation which premiered in London at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1988 starring Linzi Hateley 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. The original London principal cast, including Hateley, 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.
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