Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why Are You Excited About CARRIE The Musical?

I've had my tickets for MCC Theater's production of Carrie since the tickets went on sale as part of a subscription (along with The Submission and Wild Animals You Should Know).  As it turns out, I'm glad I saw those other plays and will probably subscribe again.  But I can not wait for Carrie!  More about that later...

With the first performance of this revival/revised musical just 10 days away, the media machine is now going full blast.  There has been the requisite press preview of rehearsals (click HERE), including the introduction of a new song called, "You Shine." (Click HERE)  But what is interesting about that is that it isn't sung by either Carrie or her monster mother.  It is sung by Sue (Christy Altomare - Spring Awakening tour) and Tommy (Derek Klena - making his NY debut), the "it couple" at the high school where poor Carrie is being bullied and tortured for being different.  Why is that interesting?  Because, like every other thing about the press (so far)  for this show, Carrie (Molly Ranson) and Margaret White, Carrie's mother (Marin Mazzie), are not really what is being emphasized in the lead up to opening night.  Oh, they are always there, adding sound bites to general interviews, and getting enough face time that we know they are there.  And they tell us what this version will be about and why it is so timely - it will not be about special effects (though blood is mentioned by others, very pointedly), but it will be about bullying, the timeless plague of the teenage years, now so prevalent in the media as it makes a tragic resurgence nationwide.  (Director Stafford Arima convincingly explains how his vision will make the show what it always was intended to be.)

But I suspect that we aren't hearing a whole lot about them just yet for a couple of show-centric reasons.  First, comparisons are inevitable and, despite the flopping of the original, both Carrie (Lindsay Hateley) and Margaret (Betty Buckley) came out smelling like a rose critically and popularly.  Their performances - especially Buckley's rendition of "And Eve Was Weak", and Hateley's ability to rise way above the material throughout - are the stuff of Broadway legend.  And second, most of the critics actually hailed the operatic scenes between mother and daughter.  So, why invite comparisons between now and legend, and why not show off the improvements to the parts of the show that needed reworking, hence the emphasis on the new (one of many) song by the high school "it couple," who also figure prominently in the interviews?  Makes perfect sense to me.

Also missing, and understandably so, are the creators of the musical, Michael Gore, Dean Pitchford and Lawrence D. Cohen, who wanted to quietly move away from Carrie, denying revivals, re-writes and recordings for decades.  One can only imagine how they were talked into this re-visit.  And since they are rewriting the book, cutting songs and adding many more, how could they possibly have time for interviews, right?  Of course, if this version - the one they wanted in the first place, rumor has it - works, they'll have plenty of time for interviews and paparazzi.  If they don't succeed, they can go back into relative anonymity.

But the press machine for Carrie is also offering something fun and interactive.  They are posting a series of videos that answer the burning question, "Why are YOU excited about Carrie?"  To get the ball rolling, they have bits by this season's stars, Jonathan Groff, Gideon Glick and Jay Armstrong Johnson.  There are also a few from the cast and friends of the production (who knew Jeanna de Waal of American Idiot fame had a sweet, thick accent?).  But the fun is that it is also a contest.  Submit your own video and you could win opening night tickets and invites to the after party!  Click HERE for full contest rules.

Here are some of my favorite videos:

Jonathan Groff and Gideon Glick

Alex Brightman and Alex Wyse

The Cast and Creative Team 

A Couple of the Entries

I don't think this one qualifies - it is too long for the rules that are set, but it is a RIOT!

So... why am I excited for Carrie?  I love challenging shows (especially those who start off with a sad history) that are topics that make you ask, "Are they really making a musical of THAT?"  I love the book by Stephen King, and I love, love, love my bootleg of the OBC made through the sound system on closing night of the Broadway production.  Heck, I even get some enjoyment of the hideous (bootleg) London version, with the literally laughable performance of Barbara Cook.  Mostly, though, I don't want to miss this opportunity to see first hand a phoenix rise from the ashes.


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