Through powerful design, cohesive direction, and a talented cast Carrie The Musical turns an underdeveloped script into an eerily captivating production. Director Zoe Tuffin and the stellar cast push through the 1988 Broadway musical’s questionable writing to create a raw portrayal of anguish, revenge, heartbreak, and love. The accompanying lighting design, live band, and choreography combine to enhance the production’s ability to pull the audiences out of their seats and through a roller coaster of emotions – as if Carrie herself were telekinetically strangling our hearts and flinging them around the theatre with every scene.
The production’s high stakes and heightened emotions combined with Stephen King’s classic gothic-horror story erupted onto the stage, with the musical theatre element bursting through at (mostly) purposeful moments. The show used excellent pace and energy to effectively dart between both the high school students’ jittery excitement about their prom and the underlying foreboding tension of the undeniable bloodbath to come. The cast’s performances exuded passion and magnetism. The performance of juxtaposing relationships, emotions, tension, and humour all developed comfortably throughout, sometimes simultaneously within a single scene or musical numbers that created an epic concoction of joy and heartbreak on the single Visy theatre stage. With constant underlying frustration, heightened sexuality, and more than one kind of physical abuse hurled about the stage, this show is evidently not for light hearted audiences members, despite the predominantly high school setting.
From epic and energetic ensemble numbers to raw and confronting solos, the actors’ musical ability, Dominic Woodhead’s fundamental musical direction, Dan Venz’s smooth choreography, and the engaging live band backstage all fit into the show’s creation like a complimentary dance partner at prom. While some characters’ musical numbers seemed excessive, and others were frustratingly cut short or nonexistent, the writing and exposition of Carrie (Sophie Perkins) and her mother Margaret’s (Jacqi Devereux) stories and songs carried the production from abysmal to captivating. Perkins presented an explosive energy as Carrie, all contained within her achingly restrained and reserved demeanour, only to erupt in song or telekenesis ability – which were, incidentally, both equally as electric. Devereux powered through scenes as Margaret, bringing a force and depth to the complex and suffocating figure that is Carrie’s mother.
An honourable mention goes to to Georgina Hopson’s ability to carry Sue’s ricocheting emotions from anguish, to love, to terror, in the snap of a musical note or lighting cue. Other honourable mentions include Tori Bailey (Chris), Thomas Davis (Billy), and Alex Woodward (Tommy), who, unlike Sue’s excessive character development and redundant ramblings through one too many musical numbers, were presented with the challenge of creating dimension from their underwritten characters.
Patrick James Howe’s simplistic set design, Glenwright’s lighting, partnered with Tuffin’s direction, carried the productions moods, settings, and most importantly, development and devastation that was Carrie’s telekinetic ability through powerful flashing of stark white lights faced directly at the audience. Despite a problematic and unbalanced script, even with the use of the recent 2012 off-Broadway revision, Wax Lyrical Productions and the Brisbane Powerhouse burst into Brisbane theatre for 2016 with dazzling devastation and buckets of blood!
– Written by Rhumer Diball January 24th 2016
CARRIE THE MUSICAL PRESENTED BY WAX LYRICAL PRODUCTIONS & BRISBANE POWERHOUSE
WED DEC 20– SAT DEC 30, 2016.
Photo Credit Joel Devereux