Dim the house lights and pull open the curtains, because it’s time for Screaming in Harmony, where we shine the spotlight on musicals for the spooky set! Since we’re celebrating May and June as Enchantment Under the Sea Month at Nightmare on Film Street, you know we had to take a look at Carrie The Musical!
Based on the 1976 Brian De Palma film Carrie, which is based on the 1974 Stephen King novel Carrie, the musical adaptation of Carrie was first performed in 1988 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Real Shakesheads will recognize that as the birthplace of William Shakespeare, widely regarded as the father of horror musical theatre. From there, Carrie made it to Broadway, where it was a famously expensive flop. The show stayed dead for a couple decades, until it was revived for a 2012 Off-Broadway run (with a few updates to the script and music). Since that run, Carrie has been has had a few other prestige engagements, as well as many community theatre and high school productions.
THE SHORT VERSION
The story of Carrie follows the film version pretty closely. Shy, religious Carrie discovers she has telekinetic powers after a traumatic event in the locker room. Her classmates pull a prank on her, electing her prom queen before dumping a bucket of pig blood on her, sending Carrie into a frenzy. She uses her powers to get revenge on her classmates, as well as her abusive mother. It’s a timeless tale, and probably the most famous prom story in pop culture. The musical is like that, but with even more dancing!
GORE AND SCORE
While there’s no film version of Carrie: The Movie: The Musical (yet!), there’s a cast recording of the 2012 off-Broadway cast available on Spotify if you just wanna hear the songs. You can also hear the Riverdale cast singing the songs, but we’ll come back to that in a minute.
Since Carrie the Musical isn’t set in the 70s, there’s no reason for the music to be all disco, which is too bad. Instead, the music sounds like what you imagine when you hear “Broadway Musical.” Standout tracks include In (in which all the kids talk about the things that stress them out), Carrie (sung by Carrie in the musical Carrie based on the movie Carrie based on the book Carrie), The World According to Chris (where mean girl Chris explains her Machiavellian worldview), and A Night We’ll Never Forget (the opening song of the second act, where the kids sing about all their prom preparations).
It’s a bold move, adapting such a famous special effects movie for the stage. Carrie is all about a telekinetic, after all, and the split-screen climax of the movie version is a whirlwind of effects shots. To translate this on stage, creative lighting and sound effects go a long way. These sequences will never outdo the close-up magic of the film version, but when they happen you can gasp and go, “why dahling, that’s the magic of the theatre!” All in all, props to the Props department.
After being a cautionary tale for Broadway producers for years, Carrie has finally found its legs and can stand on its own merit. There’s even an episode of the second season of Riverdale where the kids are putting together a performance of it! I will say that if you aren’t already a fan of Riverdale and you seek out this episode, you’re gonna have no idea what’s going on. While there’s no word on an official film version of Carrie coming to a theater near you, there are several high-quality recordings of performances on YouTube. These range from casts of high school kids to professionals. That’s cool, because if you start one performance and decide you hate the lead, you can try a different performance!
Are you planning to pull a big prank that should probably feel like a bad idea by this point? If so, let us know on Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and the Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street Facebook page! And for more horror than you can dump on a telekinetic teenager in the first moment of happiness in her life, stay tuned to Nightmare on Film Street.