on 7 November 2012
What can I say? I've been waiting since the 80's to be able to hear a recording of Carrie: The Musical and it's finally here. And boy, was it worth waiting for! This is a superb recording of an incredible musical.
Carrie: The Musical is notorious for being the biggest flop in musical theatre history. Clips have appeared on YouTube and bootleg recordings have been widely available on the internet. Personally, I had only ever heard three of the tracks from the show: Carrie, on one of Lynzi Hateley's albums (she was the original Carrie in the broadway/UK flop), When There's No One on a Betty Buckley album and finally (and the best of the three) Unsuspecting Hearts sung by the incredible Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner on their album of the same name. As teasers for the music in this score they were tantalising; but the YouTube clips were worrying to say the least. Finally a friend let me listen to a very poor quality recording of the Broadway cast and, if I'm honest, I could see why it was poorly received: the score felt messy and confused; unsure if it wanted to be a 'teen' show or a 'horror' show.
Stephen King's book and the brilliant Brian DePalma film adaptation of the book are not a simple as they first appear and translating that into a musical was never going to be easy. Carrie is a complex character, as is her mother, Margaret - and their relationship is utterly crazy, but incredibly compelling. Throw into this mix an almost clichéd group of teens (brought into the present for this recording) and you have an eclectic mix of genres in one narrative piece.
In the original production the songs sung by Chris, Sue and the other kids really stood out as being dreadfully dated and out of place. Thankfully the writers have managed to ditch the utterly dreadful songs and replace them with ones that fit the feel of the show. Personally, I feel this story needs the lightness of the teen scenes as they bring a much-needed humour to an otherwise desperately miserable story; but these scenes also provide a stark contrast to Carrie's life at home with her mother. This is a girl you can sympathise with and root for. You want her to get the guy, go to the prom, have her first kiss...and please...please no...not go batpoo crazy at the prom! Chris Hargenson's final humiliation of Carrie White and the subsequent devastation it causes is the ultimate cautionary tale - and that message of 'be more tolerant' and 'try to understand those who are different' comes across much more clearly in this recording.
Any fan of musical theatre is going to love finally being able to hear this wonderful score and, like me, will probably feel a little sad that the original production was never recorded for posterity. However, if this is the only Carrie we ever have it's a damned good one. Marin Mazzie (Margaret White) and Molly Ransom (Carrie) are simply amazing, but everyone in the cast holds their own. Standout song: Carrie, Unsuspecting Hearts, And Eve Was Weak, Why Not Me?, Once You See, When There's No One and Evening Prayers. Although, if I'm honest, there wasn't a single track I didn't like.
on 14 December 2012
The history of Carrie The Musical is well known and if you don't know the details just google one of the many tribute web sites. Copies of both the original London and Broadway cast recordings, some from the soundboard, have been circulated and even hazy visions from a fixed theatre camera can be tracked down on YouTube. Why all this interest for the most notorious flop ever staged especially for a show designed with the RSC as a follow up for Les Miz? After all 'Not Since Carrie' ...
Now at last and after a substantial rewrite the show made to New York for a second time. Sure it is a small scale production but with a superb cast and we have this studio CD of great quality that can replace those unauthorised copies many of variable quality. The questions it has to answer are whether the cast is up to the job and whether the rewrites have adversely affected the high originality and naivety of the original. After getting used to all the changes I unexpectedly found myself really enjoying this revised version equally and in some ways more than those unofficial bootlegs.
Thank you for what is a terrific recording of some great music. The show may still not work on stage but as a separate entity the CD stands alone as a worthy addition to any serious collection of stage musicals.
on 9 May 2013
I purchased this out of curiosity. I had the opportunity to see the RSC version some years ago, turned it down and have regretted it ever since. The concept seems bizarre but the product is (I am ashamed to say) quite entertaining. I have never really understood why Carrie was such a hit (I find it depressing and too all-American for my taste) but it was the first of this genre and deserves respect for that if nothing else.
The Musical is actually a cleverly cut version of the story and falls somewhere between the musical Grease and high Opera. It is a weird conception but not unpleasant, certainly something to put on your I-pod and listen to on the bus to work (be warned though - if you do this you may find you like it). Gosh it was hard to confess that!