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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Oct 14, 2013

‘Carrie’ Is Great On The Big Screen But Doesn't Lend Itself As A Musical

'CARRIE' IS Stephen King’s first novel. It’s about an oppressed girl who takes revenge on her tormentors using her telekinetic powers. It was a big hit when shown in 1976 directed by Brian de Palma and starring Sissy Spacek in the title role, with Piper Laurie as her religious fanatic of mom. They both got Oscar nominations. It had a sequel in 1999, “Carrie 2”, and a TV version in 2002, both not as successful.

The remake is now about to be shown, this time starring Chloe Grace Moretz (“Kickass”) as Carrie and Julianne Moore as the mom. But first, we had Atlantis Production’s staging of the musical version of “Carrie”, written by Lawrence Cohen who also wrote the script of the 1976 movie. It was first staged on Broadway in 1988 and was a big flop. It was rewritten and revived more recently off-Broadway.

The night we watched, Mikkie Bradshaw as Carrie and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as her fantaic mom both got a standing ovation. And they truly deserve it as they’re both terrific and outstanding, also the entire strong ensemble with Jill Pena as Chris, the uber mean girl; Yanah Laurel as Sue, who’s more friendly to Carrie; and Marki Stroem as Tommy, the sympathetic jock who dates Carrie to the prom.

But after watching the stage version, we can only conclude that the material doesn’t really lend itself well to theatre. There are other musicals with very dark materials, like “Sweeney Todd”, which is about cannibalism, and “Les Miz”, about a tragic attempt at revolution, but they’re definitely better crafted than this one with its forgettable songs.

“Carrie” is about bullying, religious fanaticism and telekinesis best served with abundant terrifying special effects. But you can only do so much on stage, so the supposedly scary scenes are very limited. That scene where blood is poured on Carrie’s head at the night of the prom was so unconvincingly staged. Carrie didn’t even get wet, which is understandable as the fake blood might ruin the microphone attached to her body.

Carrie exits for a while and when she returns, she’s already drenched in blood. The performances are very intense but the effects are very tepid, unlike in the film version where they really go to town even in the very cinematic death scene of the mother where knives are flying all around. On the stage version, she just dies of a heart attack induced by Carrie.