“You ain’t seen nothing yet, it’s gonna be a night we’ll never forget!” chanted the cast of Carrie: the musical preceding the iconic prom scene, their voices ringing hauntingly throughout Hart House Theatre.
Based on bestselling author Stephen King’s horror novel-turned-film, the musical version of Carrie is the ultimate tale of bullying gone very wrong. The story surrounds a 17-year-old girl in her last year of high school, who is bullied horribly by her classmates. At home, she must deal with her religious zealot mother who tells Carrie that she is “special” to keep her isolated from her peers and the sexual culture of youth she views as perverse.
While suffering abuse from both her classmates and mother, Carrie develops somewhat poorly-explained telekinetic powers.
From the second Carrie (Tiyana Scott) appeared on stage with a dramatic revolving door entrance and bright blue lights, I knew the Hart House production would be a show to remember. Scott stood out immediately, not just because of her long, puritan pleated skirt in a sea of grey track pants; she gave an absolutely incredible performance with all of the emotion, pain, hope, and musical talent needed to inhabit this iconic role.
Brittany Miranda, who played Carrie’s mother, also did a stellar job at capturing the embittered, overbearing, religious fanatic with a few dramatic solos that left the audience captivated.
Although teenage angst definitely has a place in this story, a few of the scenes featuring finding-yourself songs were melodramatic to the point of drawing laughs from the audience.
The show also made use of interesting modern additions, such as projector screens showing screenshots from an Instagram page publicizing the cruelty that Carrie endured. This relevant take on the cyberbullying that is all too prevalent today made the show seem even more haunting and oddly relatable.
When Carrie is invited to prom by a boy she has secretly admired, she is ecstatic. She enters the stage in a white gown, looking so hopeful and excited that I felt heartbroken knowing what was to come next. Scott captured this youthful hope and emotion so perfectly that for a second you forgot you were watching a blood-drenched, terrifying tale of abuse and violence.
The choice of costumes for the prom scene differed from the film, with the whole cast wearing neon tutus, face paint, and glow sticks. At first, the costume choice seemed gaudy, but it served the purpose of making Carrie stand out and emphasized the gory ending to the show.
Up until this point, the show could have been any other coming-of-age tale with occasional instances of telekinesis. But when Carrie stands onstage, believing she is about to be crowned prom queen, only to have a bucket of pig’s blood dumped on her head in front of the school, the lights in the theatre went black, leaving the horrified audience to sit in the dark, watching the gruesome shadows of Carrie murdering her classmates and hearing their bloodcurdling screams echo throughout the theatre.
Carrie: the musical will be playing at Hart House Theatre until February 4, 2017.