Theatre Thursdays: Amateur ‘Carrie’ Productions

Like any horror icon worth her salt, Carrie refuses to die.

 

Despite infamously flopping in 1988 to a then-record loss of over seven million dollars, Carrie the musical lives on in amateur productions.

My original intention was to post only about a particular amateur production of the musical performed years ago at Emerson College because it is phenomenal and is, for many Carrie fans, an example of how good the show can be, but there are some other amateur productions popping up on YouTube that I thought would be worth sharing and discussing.

This is the Emerson production. As you can very easily see, it is about as low-budget as can be. The scenery never changes and the costumes are very simple, most of them seeming to come from the performers’ existing wardrobes. The strength of this production, though, comes from the earnestness and storytelling.

Whoever adapted the musical for this performance incorporated much of the dialogue from the famous 1976 film into the musical’s libretto which really helped the story. The show is a good deal less confusing and more interesting with the changes made to the dialogue and pacing. They also incorporated aspects of both the original Stratford production and revised Broadway production, such as bringing back Sue’s original solo “White Star”, replaced on Broadway with “It Hurts to be Strong”.

The cast is overall very talented, keeping in mind the fact that they are amateurs. They give wholehearted performances and though they aren’t vocally on par with the Broadway cast (no one could top Betty Buckley, obviously) they do well with the score and devote themselves to the story.

What this production did so well that neither the glitzy Broadway production nor the sparse Off-Broadway revival could manage was make the characters realistic and worth emotional investment. This production was illegal, unfortunately, since the rights for this show were not available for purchase. According to rumors, however, one of the original creators of the show (I want to say it was Dean Pitchford, but I really can’t remember or find a source anymore) saw the show and allowed it to run its remaining performances rather than shutting it down. If true, perhaps he saw that they managed to succeed where the original show failed and was glad to see his work given new life.

You can watch the majority of the production here, and I highly recommend that you do. So far the user has uploaded all of Act I and the first part of Act II. Unfortunately the full video I watched before is no longer available so hopefully this user will upload the rest of the show.

Now, after the closing of the Off-Broadway revival, the amateur rights to the show have thankfully been released! As such, Carrie fans can look forward to many more productions of the show with brand new takes on the material, working out elements over which other productions have stumbled. I’ve seen videos from two international productions of the musical so far:

I don’t know where this production comes from, but to my completely uneducated ear it sounds Finnish. Please feel free to correct me on that.

*ETA: Thank you to Rami for correcting me and identifying this language as Dutch and the production as coming from the Netherlands.

There are some things I’m not wild about here, like the door falling over right at the beginning of the destruction. That seems like it would open up an exit and everyone should be able to escape. There are also times when it seems the cast doesn’t know what to do and then they just kind of suddenly die, but there are things I love too. First off, they dumped liquid blood on Carrie! I don’t know how they managed to solve a problem that eluded the creative teams of the original production and revival but they deserve praise for that. I’m also a fan of the lighting here. The cues transition smoothly and create a good atmosphere. Also, what a great voice on Carrie!

This production seems to be from the Philippines and I really, REALLY like it. I think the end is a little rushed and awkward as the students all corral themselves into the exit, but I love the rest of it. I think the stage design is fantastically unique and inventive and I LOVE seeing the students pressing against the frames and really giving a sense of how they are trapped which I always found to be the most horrifying aspect of the scene. I also like the effect they’re going for where the students seem to already be under Carrie’s power as she sings her solo and are then struck down in time with the music’s crescendos. I have a great admiration for this ensemble too, who are really selling the horror.

I definitely look forward to seeing more productions of Carrie in the future, and hopefully some local schools/theatre troupes in my area will tackle the piece so I can see some in person.

2 thoughts on “Theatre Thursdays: Amateur ‘Carrie’ Productions

  1. The “Finnish” video is actually from the Netherlands. (I would know, as I speak both Finnish and Dutch 🙂 ) They’ve had two amateur productions there already.

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