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.