NextWave’s ‘Carrie: the Musical’ Raises Bar for Teen Productions
This show is a bloody good time!
This past Friday, I had the opportunity to check out the NextWave Educational Program at the Evansville Civic Theatre's production of Carrie: the Musical. This was not a show I was familiar with, but upon hearing that yes, this was based on the Stephen King novel, I was all-in and the show did not disappoint.
The show follows the story of Carrie White, a high school student suffering from bullying at school and at home. Oh, and she just happens have telekinetic powers. She is befriended by Sue Snell, and eventually gets asked to prom by Tommy Ross (Sue's boyfriend and Carrie's crush). Unfortunately, super mean power couple Chris and Billy have other plans and come up with the whole "Dump pigs blood on Carrie at the prom" scheme. And yes, that iconic scene is fully represented in the show.
Carrie is played magnificently by Katelyn Miller. I've had the opportunity to see Katelyn in a number of productions at the D'Alto Studio and her acting never fails to impress me. I've seen her play mostly heel characters so it was nice to see her portray a character that garners sympathy from the audience. I enjoyed the journey she takes Carrie on. Early, she plays Carrie shy and insecure and by the end, with confidence and purpose (even if the character is having a hard time believing in herself). Her vocal range is outstanding and she brings emotion to each lyric. I really couldn't imagine anyone else in the role after seeing her performance (especially after the intensity she brought to the climax of the show).
This show has some very memorable villains, too. Samantha Prindle as Carries mother, Margaret, was outstanding. She managed to make you hate her, but does it in such a way that you understand she's just doing what she thinks is best for her daughter. She never became the cartoon character of an evil mom from the movie version, which was great. Her songs were some of the toughest to sing and she nailed all of them.
Alli Wilsbacher as Chris and Cole Brinker as Billy were the perfect power-couple of mean. The show doesn't have a lot of humor, but if I was laughing, there's a good chance Cole Brinker was the cause. In contrast to Katelyn, I've only seen Alli in lighthearted roles, so it was fun to see her flip the switch and get her villain on. It's also to be noted that "The World According to Chris" was probably my favorite number of the show.
Katie Ivie as Sue Snell was a very nice treat. The character's desire to be nice to Carrie, even at the expense of losing friends, felt genuine. And the heartbreak and guilt she displays after the climax was extraordinary. She played well together with Tommy, played by Jeremiah Angel. The two had a fun and flirty chemistry. Jeremiah wore the role of "Nice Guy" like a finely tailored coat. You could take him home to mom (except for Carrie's) any day of the week.
The show did have a few shortcoming's, though. I did have some issues hearing certain lines of dialogue and singing due to either the sound system or actors not being loud enough. The other issue that stood out was some of the background acting done by the ensemble, while funny and appropriate, often upstaged the principal cast members to the point of being slightly distracting.
Overall, Carrie: the Musical was a fun show with catchy songs and memorable performances from a very young cast. Director Clay Prindle did a great thing when he decided to do this show. The product he put forth is a fine representation of the passion he has for this show. This is a must see for any fan of horror, Stephen King, or musicals.
The show runs this coming weekend Fri. Jan. 26th and Sat Jan 27th at 7:30pm and Sun. Jan. 28th at 2pm. You can get more information here.