Carrie (Squabbalogic Independent Music Theatre)

carrieVenue: Seymour Centre (Sydney NSW), Nov 13 – 30, 2013
Music: Michael Gore
Lyrics: Dean Pitchford
Book: Lawrence D. Cohen (based on the novel by Stephen King)
Director: Jay James-Moody
Performers: Hilary Cole, Margi de Ferranti, Adele Parkinson, Rob Johnson, Prudence Holloway, Bridget Keating

Theatre review
Transposing a well-known horror movie into the live musical genre seems a strange concept, but Carrie is mainly about life in an American high school, which is a setting that is no stranger to show tunes and dance sequences.In fact, Jay James-Moody’s direction is confident within that realm of the “high school musical”, and he steers it into family-friendly territory, which is not inappropriate but unfortunately loses the opportunity at creating something darker and edgier for the genre.

The show has a stable of outstanding singers, but casting misses the mark in a couple of cases. Three key characters, Carrie, Sue and Tommy, however, are excellently portrayed, and their work contributes greatly to the success of this production. Hilary Cole as the protagonist is convincing and heart-wrenching. Even though her characterisation of Carrie is slightly underplayed, her singing voice is strong enough to create impact whenever the plot demands drama. The penultimate and iconic scene is handled especially well, which is surprising, considering the pervasiveness of its imagery in pop culture. Cole more than lives up to expectations, and gives us a Carrie who is at once frightening and tragic.

Adele Parkinson is fantastic in her role of Sue. Her creation is the most believable in the show, and crucially, she encourages empathy from the audience with her natural warmth, and the credible affection she musters for the lead character. Rob Johnson is a charming Tommy. He is an eminently watchable actor, who seems to be at ease in any situation, and with any co-star. Johnson has a confident laid-back quality that suits his role perfectly.

This production does not have the same horror and tension that many know from the book and film adaptation, but it stands alone as a fascinating and captivating show. Carrie is an “outsider” classic that speaks to many, despite its implausibilities. We relate to the girl who is left out, and the bullying she experiences is topical for any generation.