Things will get bloody…
By Margaret Wieringa
Initially, the tale known by most as a horror film from the seventies seems like an odd choice for a musical. But, at the heart of Stephen King’s novel Carrie is the story of a girl who is oppressed by her mother and tormented by her peers until she breaks. The twist, as most people know, is that she has telekinetic powers, and wreaks a brutal revenge of those who have hurt her. Carrie: The Musical deals a story so epic it could have been an opera.
The show begins with a musical number that shows off the talents of the strong supporting cast. The busy and eye-catching choreography by Lisa Minett draws the audience into the world of the musical as well as the angst of high school. When Emily Milledge enters, she brings all of the awkward misfit elements of Carrie and even when the beautiful swan emerges, she retains a hint of the fearful girl within. The duets between Carrie and her mother, played by Chelsea Gibb, are intense and passionate. It really is a cast of strong female performers, with Chernae Howlett also capturing the deep nastiness of Chris Hargensen as she manipulates those around her, and sets out to ruin Carrie’s life.
The stand-out performance, however, came from Hollie James as Sue Snell. Easily able to hold the stage on her own, she showed all the poignant sweetness and kindness the character required. Her duet with Jack O’Riley playing Billy Ross at the start of the second act was delightful.
Clearly, it was going to be a challenge to have objects flying around and the utter destruction of a whole town shown on stage – especially the small stage at Chapel Off Chapel. However, director Terence O’Connell and his excellent production crew really make a little go a long way. While the explosive scene at the prom is quite short, the combination of the sound and lighting with clever choreography gave it the intensity to be extremely effective. The solid musical accompaniment of the band helmed by David Piper allowed the cast to shine throughout, especially during this dramatic finale.
Carrie: The Musical is the debut production for Ghost Light, a company that aims to present premieres of musicals locally, as well as creating new musical and physical theatre. They have certainly started with a bang, and will be worth keeping an eye on.
Venue: Chapel Off Chapel,
Season: 25 September – 12 October, Wednesday – Saturday 8pm, Saturday matinee 4th and 11th October 2pm, Wednesday matinee 8th October 1pm, Sunday 6pm
Tickets: $49.50 Full, $39.50 Concession and groups of 10+