Review of Carrie: The Killer Musical Experience

Posted: November 25, 2015, 09:31:49

I got an email from Ami Sandler the other day and he told me that he had been to the Carrie musical in Los Angeles on October 24 at the Los Angeles Theatre and from what I understand, it's something you don't want to miss out on.

Carrie: The Killer Musical Experience
Log Angeles Theatre
October 24, 2014

Carrie: The Killer Musical Experience was more than just entertaining: it was alive! From the moment you arrived at the Los Angeles Theatre, you were immersed in the theme of the performance. The doors on the outside of the venue showed hands of Carrie’s victims trying to leave the gymnasium. Inside the entryway, guests were greeted as if they were arriving for the prom. There were prom posters, as well as a photo booth for guests to take free photos against a backdrop using several props. Once inside the theatre, attendees could venture downstairs towards the restrooms for several themed rooms fitting for the musical. One was set up like a gym locker room, with one locker open with items bearing Sue Snell’s name. The other side of the locker room featured showers and tiles, with a bloody message for Carrie.

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Other areas/rooms of the Theatre featured a pig farm, where a pig appeared to be murdered, lying dead next to sledgehammer and a bucket full of blood. Towards the restrooms, a mirror had Margaret White’s classic message to Carrie written in “blood” and featured bloody handprints. All throughout the restrooms, bloody handprints were all over the sink areas, the stalls and tile floor/walls. Other areas featured chairs that had been knocked over with prom memorabilia around them. One spot had three full-size lockers set up, and the middle one was opened to represent Carrie’s locker. Inside were some textbooks, a religious artifact, and a notebook (composition book) with Carrie’s name on it.

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Inside the seating area was an amazing sight, even before the production began. The “gymnasium” set was built on top of the existing orchestra seats, so it was elevated a few feet from the entry floor. The back of the seating area looked like a gym entrance to Ewen High School, and the stage looked like an actual gym floor. The seats were built like gym bleachers, with four sets of “senior sections” actually on the gym floor. These seats actually became part of the production once the play began, and stagehands/actors moved the four areas many times to really give those viewers an experience. The other seats were designated sophomore or junior, depending on ticket prices. The backdrop for the stage featured student desks, and other elements that gave the audience a feeling of really being on a high school campus.

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The musical had two acts, the first with 11 songs and the second with 14 songs. The concept of the musical was from the perspective of Sue Snell, who seemed to be haunted by the night of May 28. She’s the narrator throughout the play at several points, with a single white spotlight on her face as she recounts the events that took place. The production was fairly true to the novel, but also had some modern aspects as well (cell phone use by the students, modern day references, etc.). Several scenes of the play featured some amazing props designed to show off Carrie’s telekinesis powers, and items seemed to move without anyone touching them. Another scene featured Carrie and Margaret was a duet song with them on stage alone, along with a life size crucifix hanging that lowered behind them from above the stage. It seemed almost too real, and during one part of the song, the life size “Jesus” begins to move, hovers down and reaches towards them, then elevated up into the air above the set to disappear.

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The “Prom Climax” scene and song might have been one of the best theatrical moments I have ever seen. The setup was perfect as King described it in his novel. The bloody bucket was set up and placed above the gym stage, while the prom king/queen votes get exchanged so that Carrie will be chosen as the winner. Once her name is called, Carrie went on the stage, and all hell breaks loose. The rope is pulled, and the “blood” splattered all over Carrie and her prom dress. The placement was perfect and she truly looked like very close to the image on the movie poster from 1976. She begins to use her powers to destroy the gym, and the entire set seemed to shake. Tommy gets electrocuted when wiring falls from the ceiling with sparks flying towards him. The gym lights above “explode” and confetti rained down from above our heads as if it were broken glass. The backdrop and stage itself all begin to fall apart, gym signs falter, light fixtures fall… It felt like you were in the middle of a live earthquake and were stuck inside. Most of the set around the audience really was destroyed. All the students were “locked in”, as Carrie uses her powers to shut all the doors/exits on all ends of the stage. Many of the actors attacked by Carrie spewed blood from their mouths. The sounds was immersive and the feeling was that the audience was stuck inside the gym with the others…

The musical ends with an epilogue by Sue Snell and the cast as they reflect on the entire event, years later in the gym. The final song concludes with a small white spotlight that lights up Carrie’s prom queen crown sitting alone on the gym floor on the center of the stage. The play lasted almost a full two hours, and had to have been one of the better productions I have ever seen. The cast was brilliant and had as much passion as could be as they performed. Whether I am biased as a huge Stephen King fan or not, I truly felt the Carrie musical was a sight to see and one that should not be missed.

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