When Stephen King wrote his first horror story Carrie in 1974 it is most unlikely that he ever considered it would be brought to the stage as a musical. However with a book by Lawrence D Cohen, music by Michael Gore and lyrics by Dean Pitchford the musical version hit the Broadway stage in 1988.
The story is very recognisable today as a young girl is bullied at school by her peers and even with intervention by a well meaning teacher does not lessen the bullying. Added to her miserable life is her religious over bearing mother. The Hills Musical Company have put together a team that bring the story to life with amounts of shock and horror interspersed with snippets of comedy. The team is led by the Director Ben Stefanoff ably supported by the Musical Director Dylan Rufus and the Choreographer Ashleigh Rathjen.
The cast is headed by Megan Davidson as Carrie White. Her solos, duets and as part of the ensemble allowed her to not only show her musical talent but also her acting ability particularly in the final scenes of Act One and Act Two. Carrie’s mother Margaret White is portrayed magnificently by Natasha Scholey, whose powerful voice added to the persona as the loving but over protective cruel and religious bigot give belief as to why Carrie is the person she has become. The student who starts to have some mixed feelings for her ridicule of Carrie is Sue Snell played by Ruby Pinkerton. Her rendition of ‘Once You See’ is memorable as was her performance in the very opening scene which set the base for the play. The love interest comes in the form of Tommy Ross played by Simon Barnett. His narrating of the essay he wrote in song was a feature along with the other eight numbers in which he sang. Sarah Whalen as Chris Hargensen had the unenviable job of portraying the conniving spoilt brat who controls the other students. She accomplished this role with the execution of an experienced performer. The control she has over her boyfriend Billy Nolan played by Brad Tucker is palpable. Billy is a tough but dumb student repeating his last year in school for the third time. Brad’s extensive experience in the music world comes to the form and is easily recognisable by his performance. Miss Gardner and Mr Stephens played by Kristin Stefanoff and Michael Butler respectively bring authority to the school with realistic and believable performances.
The other seven members of the ensemble all sang, acted and danced without fault to the entertaining choreography. The orchestra was spot on and did not overcome the voices on stage. The sets were not overdone but very effective, the scene changes were seamless with no or minimum disruption. The lighting and sound complimented each other particularly when Carrie was showing her power closing the windows at the end of act one.
There are themes in this show that may stir some emotion from the audience but it is a must to see and a triumph for the Hills Musical Company.