Review: Carrie: The Musical

‘I am a song of endless wonder that no one will claim but someday someone will know my name!’

The audience enters the theatre to see a set already in ruins. As the play begins, Sue Snell (Isobel Guthrie) appears on stage, a disembodied voice asks her name, and she begins to narrate the story as if being interrogated. The implication is clear—there is only one way this could end. The audience is forced to watch as inevitable disaster unfolds. 

Based on the cult-classic Stephen King novel, Carrie: the Musical tells the story of Carrie White, a frightened teenage girl who longs to fit in with her peers, despite their constant bullying, and to be loved by her mother, despite the abuse she receives from her. When Carrie discovers her telekinetic abilities, she sees her difference as exceptional and finally has a way to defend and avenge herself. While she is, at her core, a sweet girl, there is only so much one person can take before they snap.  

The vocal ability of the ensemble was phenomenal. From their powerfully coordinated opening number In, to the choral style Open Your Heart, they had a commendable ability to adapt to the varied tone of the play, and this was reflected by their musical performances, succeeding in presenting a range of musical numbers.

Image credit: Jennifer Chen

The entire cast was fantastic, but there were a few performances that stayed in my mind as I left the theatre. Firstly, Eleanor Worth as Carrie. She perfectly captured Carrie’s demeanour, shifting from terrified, to cheerful, to angry, and back again over the course of the play. Her scream of “That’s not my name!” was a particular highlight, sending a palpable chill through the audience and perfectly encapsulating Carrie’s character: a timid girl with a soft exterior, who has so much energy within her, that there would be serious consequences if she ever let it out.

Other standouts were Jessi Rogers as Carrie’s mother Margaret, who comes across as terrifying, but has a core of fear that acts as motivation for her cruelty. Her actions were not excused, but they were explained, leaving her far from a purely evil villain. Her performance of And Eve Was Weak was chilling, making it one of the tensest moments of the first act. Together, Worth and Rogers succeed in portraying an incredibly complex mother-daughter relationship based upon both love and hate, leading to heart-breaking consequences.

Image credit: Jennifer Chen

The one area in which the show fell a little flat was its special effects, but I appreciate that the limitations of both an amateur budget, and an inability to edit in post-production meant that this was probably to be expected. Understanding this, I simply suspended my disbelief when chairs moved, visibly pulled by strings. But I was disappointed when that iconic prom moment lacked in much of the visceral drama that I expected. However, where special effects failed to have their desired impact, dramatic lighting was beneficial. Designed by Charlotte Conybeare and Katie Stapleton, the lights helped set the mood and propel the story forward. The flickering lights effectively indicated the use of Carrie’s powers, while shifting coloured lights helped convey sudden changes in tone, and the spotlight on Sue signalled a seamless transition from the main story to the narration.

Carrie was a highly engaging show, part horror and part tragedy, peppered with enough comedic moments to stop it from feeling too dire as the catastrophe unfolds. This production was, at its heart, about what it means to be human, the frailty that entails, and our unending need to feel loved. Carrie is a girl who wants nothing more than to be seen, heard, and appreciated, and this production certainly achieved that.   


Carrie: The Musical is showing at the ADC theatre on the 9th – 11th of May at 7:45 pm at the ADC Theatre.  Tickets are available here

Featured image credits: Jennifer Chen

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