It’s the perfect time to revisit “Carrie,” Stephen King’s classic tale of the tormented misfit with telekinetic powers—not only is Kimberly Peirce’s film-revamp of Brian De Palma’s 1976 version currently playing in theatres, but Halloween is just around the corner. For anyone who wants to see a better, more artsy take on the story than either film version can offer or who just wants some campy, Halloween fun, NRACT’s production of “Carrie,” directed to perfection by the up and coming James Ilsley, is a perfect choice.
The musical version starts with a strong opening number, “In,” a song that perfectly describes the struggles, pitfalls, and pressures of being a high school student. The song features cool choreography and some impressively brazen language for a community theatre, causing the production to make a bold statement from the very beginning. Thanks to tight direction, a talented cast, and some clever costuming and staging, the energy and downright gusto exuded early in the performance is maintained throughout.
Though neither Stephen King’s novel nor the original 1988 Broadway production debuted in a time of cell phones and social media, these modern “conveniences” have been added in here, successfully updating the show and making it feel more relevant to today’s teens (and adults). Of course, even without the cell phones, “Carrie” is relevant to anyone who has ever felt left out and unimportant. Those types of feelings don’t require any updating, and neither do the all-too-familiar cast of characters assembled here. All the high school archetypes can be found, including snotty, mean, popular girl Chris, played by a love-to-hate-her Lori Ingle Taylor, who somehow manages to make the character at least a little sympathetic and who sizzles with some sultry onstage dance moves; popular-but-secretly sweet Sue in an endearing turn for Mary Reilly; sassy Norma, a small role turned into a major production highlight by Tyanna West’s comedic timing; and a large crew of hotshots, wannabes, and in-betweeners.
Standing out from the crowd of high-schoolers is poor outcast Carrie, portrayed as perfectly shrinking, awkward, and just the right touch of endearing by Ann Davis. Carrie lives alone with her slightly psychotic, religious zealot of a mother, Margaret, who is played with scary intensity by Sandi Sullivan. As the local teens torment poor Carrie, her telekinetic powers grow, all leading to the inevitable showdown at the high school prom. As anyone familiar with the story knows, there is blood and gore involved in the finale, but NRACT works hard not to turn the final scenes into a complete blood bath. In fact, the whole production is handled with grace, including special effects, which are enacted using some cost-cutting techniques that don’t detract from the production but instead add to its overall campiness and aplomb.
North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents CARRIE: THE MUSICAL at 8 p.m. Oct. 31-Nov. 2 and 3 p.m. Nov. 3 at 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615, in the Greystone Village Shopping Center.
TICKETS: $11.34-$18.59 (including fees), with $3 discounts for students and seniors 62+.
BOX OFFICE: 919-866-0228, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.nract.org/upcoming-productions/carrie-the-musical (bottom of page).
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.nract.org/upcoming-productions/carrie-the-musical (bottom of page).
NOTE: All tickets for the show’s Halloween performance on Oct. 31st are just $11.34 (including fees).
Carrie (1974 novel): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrie_%28novel%29 (Wikipedia).
Stephen King (novelist): http://www.stephenking.com/index.html (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_King (Wikipedia).
Carrie (1976 film): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrie_%281976_film%29 (Wikipedia).
Carrie: The Musical (1988 Broadway musical): http://carriethemusical.weebly.com/ (blog) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrie_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
Michael Gore (music): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Gore (Wikipedia).
Dean Pitchford (lyrics): http://deanpitchford.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_Pitchford (Wikipedia).
Lawrence D. Cohen (book): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_D._Cohen (Wikipedia).
James Ilsley (director): https://www.facebook.com/jamesilsley (Facebook page).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.