I saw Carrie – the musical – this weekend at McCarter Theatre. And yes, that Carrie, the Stephen King with the blood and fire and the telekinesis… Yea – it has a long a varied history getting to the stage – which you can read about here : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrie_%28musical%29 .
But what about this version? Well, to be honest… this version felt a lot like the Stephen King story and an after-school special had a baby, but with blood – and fire – and telekinesis.
MCC Theatre, whom I love by the way (the did The Other Place last year – SPECTACULAR!!! Hands down the best show in NYC last year), normally does pretty amazing work. And by some standards, this show is no different. It has a very talented cast, including the very underused Jeanna De Waal – who I thought was the best thing in the show.
Ok, I have to admit something, right here, and right now – I’m not really a big musical girl. I’m just not. I don’t like them, I never really have. I mean, I like some of them. I loved Rent when it came out,; I loved Spring Awakening; I liked the original “concept” version of Jekyll and Hyde (the one they did at the Alley Theatre – before it got sliced and butchered into the Broadway show – so yes, that is WAY pre- David Hasslehoff)… Um… I think that’s it. I don’t even like Gilbert and Sullivan and my mother took me to their shows once a year for like 10 years. (I mean, I appreciate how talented they are, and I like some of the individual songs – because they’re fun – but do I “like” them? No. I would not choose to go see them, even as an obligation show). The ironic thing about this confession is that I adore music – can’t get enough of it. So, one would think, putting two things that I love - no three things I love – I love dance too - together would make a new thing I love – but one would think wrong.
So, why the heartfelt confession – so I can say this. I, for one, thought the cast sang and danced very well. I even liked the in your face harsh choreography. I thought it went well with the high school vibe – or you know, the entertainment version of that which is 20 and 30 some-things playing high-schoolers.
But overall, the show was meh for me. Mostly because it was a little preachy. However, and here’s the good part – the way the “scene” was handled was so good! The tech on that one moment (ok, like 5 mins of moments) between the blood and the burning was some of the best out of the box problem solving I’ve seen on stage lately. And it added to the very visceral reaction that I had of being punched in the gut when it happened – even though I KNEW where the musical was headed from before I sat down.
I mean, I love me some Stephen King (thus, the musical), and I have read the book, and watched the movie. But something about this version of it made what happen to Carrie seem all the more cruel than any other times I have come into contact with the story. I mean, I never thought dumping pig’s blood on someone was a nice thing to do, but this time, it felt different.
And I realized – that is the power of live theatre: of connecting with the innocence and vulnerability of an actress that is not separated by either your imagination or a screen, but actually in the same room and breathing the same air as you, of actually seeing the actress sticky in (fake) blood squish across the stage, of watching real people share real space with you and getting to know these people – maybe not like – but know – and then watching them do something so hurtful to someone else you have come to know.
Once again, for me, it boiled down to the audience relationship and the fact that the audience and the players share the same environment for the length of the story. There can be no disconnect, no separation, because it’s all one. And I think humans respond differently to story telling in that situation than in story telling that is a step removed, however it is removed. That’s not to say I don’t love books (please, look at my room and then try to tell me I’m not a bibliophile. ß such a grammatically bad sentence with so many negatives), or film – it’s just not the same. They don’t fill the same nitch within the human soul because they are more passive. There is not the sense of danger that any moment one of the actors could decide that you should also have blood thrown on you. Your journey is their journey because you are taking it together.
I don’t know. I feel a little like I’m rambling now. I’ve been really sick this week, so I am hoping this post makes sense to anyone but me . Thanks for reading!