About Time You Saw: Carrie: The MusicalBy Gilly Hopper
Based on the 1980s cult Stephen King novel, Carrie: The Musical is a modern telling of a terrified seventeen-year-old misfit, Carrie White, relentlessly humiliated by her peers. Originating in 1988, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production first premiered in Stratford-upon-Avon, and now, 27 years later, Carrie: The Musical arrives at the Southwark Playhouse for its long-awaited London debut.
At a glance Carrie: The Musical is a run-of-the-mill reimagining of your stereotypical teenage angst-ridden Halloween episode of Glee. Such preconceptions are drummed home with music by Michael Gore (Fame), who’s 80s classic tunes spurt an energetic score of peppy pop ballads. But despite Carrie: The Musical’s ‘teen drama’ genre (and naff associations this implies), this young and talented cast delivers three-dimensional, fully developed characters, making a show fuelled with trashy storylines utterly compelling. Head bitch, Chris Hargensen (Gabriella Williams) makes her professional debut with stony confidence and striking vocals. Her sidekick Sue Snell (Sarah McNicholas) is a pure and captivating talent who’s natural abilities permeated the auditorium. Through a mash up of contemporary vocal styling’s and masses of adrenaline, Director and Choreographer, Gary Lloyd, leads the synchronized ensemble in a well-oiled and polished performance. Other notable performances include Sue’s boyfriend Tommy Ross (Greg Miller-Burns) performance amplified as the show progressed, steadily gaining our affections as the kind-hearted popular kid who takes Carrie White to the dance.
Full disclosure – your senior prom will never pan out exactly as expected. For some this may be because your date didn’t turn up or perhaps you spilt punch down your dress moments after your swanlike arrival at school. For Carrie White (Evelyn Hoskins), it will probably because you have demonic tendencies and your high school experience to date hasn’t been exactly idyllic. Add to this your mother’s (Kim Criswell) hyper-religious outlook and Carrie’s ignited revenge seems inevitable. As Margaret White, Broadway veteran Criswell brings classically trained airs to the production, seamlessly gliding through from chest to upper register. She appears firmly in control, both in character and vocal technique . Forging a strong connection with Evelyn Hoskins, the pair presents steadfast performances. Just like prom night one girl outshines the next only on this occasion the crown will have to be a shared victory across a plethora of remarkable new talents.
Adding to the unrelenting charm of this grass roots production house, post-curtain I shared an elevator with blood-splattered members of the ensemble journeying on from Southwark Playhouse to the Northern Line’s Eastbound Platform and beyond. So to, Carrie: The Musical will stick with you long after the show’s concluding number. If you enjoyed contemporary musicals like Next to Normal and Spring Awakening, you will undoubtedly fall victim to Carrie: The Musical.
Photos by Claire Bilyard