Every living being claims to have seen Carrie, the legendary 1988 Broadway flop musical based on the Stephen King novel about the small-town girl who gets revenge on the bullies via bloodying up the prom.
It was the original “It Gets Better” video.
Well, I really saw it and I have the Playbill to prove it!
And it wasn’t all terrible.
In fact, the early sequences featuring some angsty mother-daughter duetting were pretty explosive — until the show focused on the cheesy high school silliness and lyrics like “Chop! Kill the pig! Pig, pig! Kill, kill!”
And that’s when it became legendary.
Well, the musical’s creators have rethought this thing all these years later to come up with a new Off-Broadway version that aims to strip it of its risibility and go for more earnest interaction and developed characters.
This time, the beleaguered Carrie (baby-faced Molly Ranson) seems a little less outwardly freaky, and her damnation-fearing mom (the reliably good Marin Mazzie) is not quite as externally looney.
What’s more, the prom scene is done via suggestive visual and sound cues, without any real liquid going on.
Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford have added to and subtracted from their score, coming up with songs that actually advance the plot and characters, which is not the case in way too many musicals.
Alas, Carrie’s two big musical outbursts are not inspired enough to make the character come to full life.
And Act Two — leading up to the bloody climax — isn’t as enjoyable as the first half, when Carrie goes from a put-upon girl with a period to a kick-ass Mary Poppins who can move furniture at will and even land a date for the prom.
But while the high school high jinks are still not persuasively pulled off, there’s enough workable stuff in this horror musical to make it a non-horror.
It’s never going to be a classic, but those who wished they’d gone the Xanadu route and camped up the material might be pleasantly (or rather, unpleasantly) surprised.