by Tim Murdock
HIH's resident horror buff (and self-proclaimed Carrie connoisseur) Tim Murdock recently attended the opening night performance of Carrie: The Musical down at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. And he's here to give us an account of what went down...
I may be the only person I know who has a special place in his heart reserved for all things Carrie, whether it be the Stephen King original in 1976, the 2002 NBC movie-of-the-week, or most recently, the 2013 remake. (Full disclosure: I actually saw the remake five times in the theater.)
I even liked 1998's The Rage: Carrie 2. There, I said it.
The appeal of Carrie is a simple one: With the help of telekinesis, an outsider gets revenge on a cruel world that treats her like dirt. It's a story we can relate to at one point in our lives, but for Carrie, it was a lifetime. So when the opportunity came along to attend the opening night of Carrie: The Musical at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, I felt like Carrie getting the chance to go to prom!
Upon arriving, I was impressed right away. The corridor to the theatre was decorated with props from the show, recounting the bloody story of teen angst. It was like a creepy funhouse loaded with ominous red lighting, smoke, and bloody handprints on the wall. Then, we entered a set that looked like a gymnasium and were seated in bleachers. (Talk about pep rally flashbacks!) As we walked to our seats, actress Kayla Parker, who plays Sue Snell, was already positioned in the middle of the stage/gym floor -- clearly traumatized -- and I immediately felt immersed in the world that we entered.
The ensemble is very committed to bringing the show to life on a multi-purpose set that's transformed to fit nearly every scene. In the famous shower scene, Emily Lopez (Carrie) surprisingly commits to the nudity, which I totally forgot about until it was happening. The musical numbers kind of make you forget you're watching a musical based on a horror classic, and then it reminds you once Carrie's mother Margaret (the fantastic Misty Cotton) takes the stage. Cotton fully embraces the crazy that eventually pushes her emotionally beaten daughter over the edge.
Act One provides a nice set-up of songs about our titular heroine dealing with her tormentors and her very preachy mother. Act Two, however, is the act we've been screaming for (or I should say, singing for!) Misty Cotton delivers a showstopper called "When There's No One," pretty much summing up the themes of loneliness that run throughout the show.
Once prom night arrives, the show proudly shows off its ambitious efforts with the climactic crowning of Carrie and her date as Prom Queen and King (yes, there are some eye-popping special effects involved).
Among the other notable performances are Janelle Lynn Randall as the sympathetic Mrs. Gardner and Jon Robert Hall as jock Tommy. The guy's got an easy, natural voice and a trustworthy presence (Carrie isn't the only gal in the room who took a liking to him).
And since it was Opening Night, we were treated to a fabulous afterparty with the cast and crew. Did I mention we sat behind Piper Laurie from the 1976 original adaptation???
As a Carrie connoisseur, the musical is very stimulating piece of work and should not be missed. I don't want to pick on anything Carrie-related because we all know that does not end well…
Go see Carrie: The Musical!