Carrie the Musical

Carrie the musical
A review by C J Dee

Carrie the Musical is currently showing at Chapel Off Chapel now until 12 October 2014.

Director: Terence O’Connell
Starring: Emily Milledge, Chelsea Gibb, Hollie James, Jack O’Riley, Chernae Howlett, Ross Chisari, Kathleen Amarant, Stephen Wheat, Kristyn Bilson, Haydan Hawkins, Emily Mecurio, Ben Nicholson, Rhys Velasquez
Venue: Chapel Off Chapel (12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran)
Running time: Approx 120 minutes (plus 10-15 minute interval)
Rating: ★★★★★ 5/5

Song List: In, Carrie, Open Your Heart, And Eve Was Weak, The World According to Chris, Evening Prayers, Tommy’s Poem (Dreamer in Disguise), Once You See, Unsuspecting Hearts, Do Me a Favour, I Remember How Those Boys Could Dance, A Night We’ll Never Forget, You Shine, Why Not Me?, Stay Here Instead, When There’s No One, The Prom, Alma Mater, The Destruction, Carrie (Reprise), Epilogue

Carrie White (Milledge) has been raised in a strictly religious home by her mother Margaret (Gibb). As a result she is bullied relentlessly at high school. When the bullying goes beyond too far, one of the perpetrators, Sue Snell (James), asks her boyfriend Tommy Ross (O’Riley) to take Carrie to the prom.

While Sue struggles with her guilt, another perpetrator Chris Hargensen (Howlett) feels she is the victim having been banned from prom. Chris and her boyfriend Billy Nolan (Chisari) plan a cruel prank.

What Chris and Billy don’t know is that Carrie is growing up to be quite the woman. She’s about to teach them a lesson they never learnt in school.

Carrie the Musical was everything I had hoped it would be and more.

The music was wonderful fun and enhanced the moods throughout the story perfectly. I bought a copy of the soundtrack as soon as I came home. While the purchased copy is from the Broadway production of the show, it is a testament to the cast that delivered the Melbourne performance that I was inspired to look for my own piece of the show to keep.

Each actor was exceptional in the roles they played. Emily Milledge evoked a level of pity in the audience that is not easily achievable but is exactly what the role of Carrie needs to shine. Chelsea Gibb was fierce and magnificent in her role as the religiously zealous Margaret White. A Sue Snell more likeable than Holly James would be difficult to find. Speaking of likeable, Jack O’Riley encapsulated everything Tommy Ross should be with his affable performance and easy smile. Chernae Howlett was wonderfully venomous as Chris Hargensen, the bully ringleader.

The set design was effective in its simplicity. The actors brought required set pieces on and off stage during scenes and songs. It was so seamlessly performed that often I found myself wondering from where a piece had come.

The lighting for the performance was remarkable. It added a depth to the simple set that would not have otherwise been there.

I was concerned going into the show that the acoustics of a smaller theatre may have drowned out the lyrics (an issue I’ve read about in reviews of overseas performances for Carrie the Musical). However every song and line of dialogue was crystal clear.

Overall Carrie the Musical is a fantastic show. Performances produced by the Ghost Light team are available at Chapel Off Chapel until 12 October 2014. This reviewer highly recommends the show to fans of the book, the movie, or fun theatre.

“Even for me, this trick is pretty damn sick.”