CARRIE: THE MUSICAL – THE CIVIC THEATRE OF ALLENTOWN, PA, October 7, 2016 Opening Night
Screenplay By: Lawrence D. Cohen
Music by: Michael Gore
Lyrics by: Dean Pitchford
Director: William Sanders
Musical Director: Steve Reisteter
Production Stage Manager: Rae Labadie
“Are you saying we are sitting in the splatter seats?” We will never tell. You have to go see “Carrie: The Musical” to find out.
October 7, 2016… The opening night of “Carrie: The Musical.” Tonight we witnessed quite a performance by a lively, vibrant cast. They did not seem nervous and seemed to having fun portraying these legendary characters. “The Civic Theatre is a non-profit organization with over 80 years of history in the Lehigh Valley.” (Check out www.civictheatre.com for more information and to purchase tickets.) The Civic Theatre is steeped in history and tonight it was lit beautifully in Allentown, PA. If you cannot get to Broadway in New York City, standing outside of the beautiful Civic Theatre gives you the Broadway box office feelings you want from a theatre experience.
Tonight, there was a full house of theatre goers seeking out a great production. Many people were wondering how murder, horror and music mix. Well, “Little Shop of Horrors,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” “The Devil’s Carnival.” Just to name a few murder/horror inspired musicals. It was quite the plaguing question though! “How could “Carrie” be a musical? “How will they pull off one of the most infamous prom scenes in history?” “It is so dark, how could it be a musical?” Those were just a few of the questions running around the theatre. People also admitted they have either read the book or just saw the movie or saw the movie and never read the book. So it was even a mystery to some of the theatre goers.
Author, Stephen King wrote a book that would become legendary involving: “The story of misfit high-school girl, Carrie White, who gradually discovers that she has telekinetic powers. Repressed by a domineering, ultra-religious mother and tormented by her peers at school, her efforts to fit in lead to a dramatic confrontation during the senior prom.” Check out StephenKing.com for information on his books and “Carrie.”
“Carrie: The Musical” is by an American screenwriter and producer; Cohen worked on the musical adaptation of “Carrie.”
Tonight’s version of “Carrie: The Musical” was beautifully done. Okay, I know what you are thinking, beautiful? The cast and the sounds, the music, the gasp and cheers from the audience along with some gasp and lots of laughter surprisingly. They also put quite a few modern twist on including having the “kids” take selfies and making silly faces. It starts off in darkness and an amazing performance by Emilie Leyes who portrays Sue Snell, Carrie White’s caring, heartfelt friend describing the torment and torture Carrie White has to endure. August Fegley portrayed Carrie White and Tracy Ceschin portrayed her religious, almost future telling mother Margaret White. Tracy and August’s were in synch as they sang beautifully together and we could feel each heartfelt word Tracy sang as she belted out several incredibly heartfelt songs with such emotions. (There were goosebumps.)
Hannah Bonnett portrayed Carrie White’s nemesis and quite the bad girl with nothing but revenge on her mind. Hannah’s performance was incredible as she described the reasoning behind dating her boyfriend, Billy Nolan portrayed by Sam Thompson who scored his bad boy points with a cool leather jacket and the dude bringing the party attitude.
“Carrie: The Musical” went into details that leads you to believe they are conveying a message to stop bullying and kindness doesn’t cost anything but making fun of a person for “being different” may cost a life or a lifetime of heartache as Emilie (Sue) continued to tell the heartbreaking story from a hospital setting on the stage, her doctor portrayed by Deena Linn.
They kept some things close to detail with Carrie’s emerging “as a woman” scene and of course decided Sue’s boyfriend would be included in more torment for Carrie. Thomas Riley portrayed Tommy Ross. He did an excellent job portraying the heart on his sleeve boyfriend. It was interesting also because it feels like they pulled fashion from quite a few eras including the seventies, eighties, and nineties and even today. Not sure is that was intentional but some of the scenes had a bit of a “Hair,” the musical vibe and even “Jesus Christ Superstar” with the beauty of Tracy’s singing and a few light, fun dance numbers in which the cast seemed to let loose.
A few more notable performances of course Kristen Stachina as Miss Gardner who tries to encourage Carrie White. Francesca Rhoads as Frieda who declares, “F*ck you very much!” Erica Morreale as the eye rolling, too funny Norma. Zoli Heft as Helen, Nachi Lederer as George, Michael Scuotto as Stokes, Olivia Behr as Shelley, Katie Colacito as Lucy, Jenna Lowry as Gloria, Logan Kelley as Madison, Tyler Fitch as Freddy, Michael Flynn as Ryan and Pat Kelly as Mr. Stephens.
The show started on time and they had two acts. The cast ran through everything with ease. You would have thought they were doing this for months and that it was not opening night. A few of the acts that truly stood out were: Carrie, in which Carrie White beautifully introduces herself as if she is letting the whole world know she exists. Dreamer in Disguise in which Tommy delivers. Do Me A Favor which is probably where everyone discovers things for Carrie White may get worse. You Shine, which was just incredible. It was positive and uplifting, delivering an important message, (You will have to go see it to hear it!) When There’s No One in which Margaret (Tracy) delivers a chillingly, beautiful song, and of course the Prom Climax in which all hell breaks loose. (Well, hell breaking loose Carrie White style.) The Destruction is when Carrie’s telekinetic powers come into play and blood. Lots of blood, did we mention blood? August shines throughout the entire production but during the infamous prom scene she lets go and unleashing her wrath as Carrie White. Her telekinesis powers on display throughout the production and August did a great job of playing out the powers especially during the epic destruction act. This cast put a lot of effort in and The Civic Theatre was packed with happy, curious people.
If you want something fun, entertaining, lively and scary fun. You should go and see “Carrie: The Musical” and “be kind” to one another or Carrie White may get you. (Insert Evil laugh here. Enjoy the show!)
It runs October 7th to the 23rd at The Civic Theatre of Allentown. http://www.civictheatre.com/
“May your nightmares inspire you.” JMS