A Telekinetic, Teenage Tragedy

Carrie White is a special girl.  Sure she’s bullied and ostracized by her classmates, but she is a special girl.  And maybe her mother abuses her psychologically and emotionally, but she really is a special girl.  Do you want to know how special?  Just make her angry.  But I wouldn’t advise it.  For, if you do, you won’t live long enough to regret it.  Find out how special Carrie White is in Carrie:  The Musical adapted by Lawrence D. Cohen from a novel by Stephen King with music composed by Michael Gore and lyrics written by Dean Pitchford and currently playing at SNAP! Productions.

I admit to not being much of a fan of Stephen King’s horror works.  I’ve only read one of his books and have seen roughly six of his macabre tales. Now I have watched the film version of Carrie and I consider it to be the deepest of his horror novels.  Let me correct that.  It isn’t a horror novel.  Carrie is a tragedy with some undertones of horror.  It is actually an eye opening look at the evil of bullying.  I also admit that I was glad to review this show because I found it to be one of the top productions of the theatre season.

I congratulate Todd Brooks for a truly impressive piece of stage and music direction.  He treated the subject matter with respect and did fine work leading the score.  I also thought he told the story exceptionally well as he and his troupe of actors led us through the pain of Carrie’s existence, yet managed to drop little nuggets of hope for her before epically yanking the rug out from under her feet.  Brooks also drew very good performances out of his thespians who provided a well acted, well sung tale.

I always appreciate choruses who understand the vital part they play in shows.  Each and every member of this chorus stay involved with every moment of the show, providing fresh and strong characterizations that really livened things up.  This particular chorus also had the best harmonization I have ever heard, best exemplified in “A Night We’ll Never Forget”.

Notable performances were supplied by Josh Polack as Billy Nolan, the dimwitted and mean-spirited boyfriend of Carrie’s nemesis and Mike Burns’ portrayal of Tommy Ross, one of the few decent students at Carrie’s school.  Burns had one of the night’s best numbers as his pleasant tenor touched hearts with “Tommy’s Poem (Dreamer in Disguise)”.

Gigi Hausman really shines in the title role of Carrie White in her SNAP! debut.  Ms Hausman has incredible body language as the put upon Carrie as she closes herself off from the rest of her classmates with her clasped hands, slumped shoulders, and downward gaze.  My heart truly ached from the loneliness and sadness she communicated and she nicely evolves Carrie from mousey to somewhat confident and hopeful when Tommy asks her to the prom and she learns how to control her telekinesis to her final snapping after a cruel prank causes her to unleash the full fury of her power on the school.

Ms Hausman was equally moving on the singing side as her soprano pleaded for God’s help in “Evening Prayers” and was quietly optimistic in “Why Not Me?”

Sara Planck is scary in her role of Margaret White.  And what really sells it is how real and normal she appears.  Ms Planck’s Margaret seems like a regular mom, if a little overprotective, until she starts spouting the drivel that Carrie’s first period was a sign of sin.  Then you realize that she’s a neurotic with a religious mania who crooks scripture to satisfy her warped view of God and locks Carrie in an underground cell to pray for forgiveness due to her own guilt of having conceived of a child outside of wedlock.

Ms Planck’s alto nearly stole the night as she tells Carrie “And Eve Was Weak”, confesses about the night she succumbed to temptation in “I Remember How Those Boys Could Dance”, and goes soprano when she laments “When There’s No One” after she calmly decides to sacrifice Carrie, mistaking her telekinesis for demonic power.

Paloma Power also makes a fine debut with SNAP! as Sue Snell, the play’s narrator.  Ms Power’s Sue bullies Carrie at the start of the show, but genuinely regrets her actions and tries to makes amends through apology and then by getting her boyfriend, Tommy, to take Carrie to the prom.  Ms Power brings a real goodness and decency to the role and she also understands Carrie better than anyone, sharing how she sees the burning cauldron of pain beneath the quiet shell when she beautifully sings “Once You See”.

I was thoroughly repulsed by Chris Hargensen as played by Laurel Rothamel.  And, yes, that is a very high compliment.  I cannot recall a character that I detested as much as I did Chris.  Ms Rothamel’s interpretation is astonishing.  She is so cruel, so nasty, so slutty, so spoiled, and so vindictive that I found myself wishing someone would slap the taste out of her mouth and I’m a pretty peaceful, easy-going guy.  Even more amazing, she actually made me feel a tiny bit of sympathy for her when she implied that her bullying nature is the by-product of being beaten by her father, a ruthless attorney, in the night’s most fun number, “The World According to Chris”.

Jason DeLong deserves extremely high praise for his choreography which was not only fun and creative, but managed to be flowing and big despite the confines of the small theatre.  Megan Bollanger’s set invoked memories of high school dances from yesteryear.  Leah Skorupa’s costumes were pitch perfect from Carrie’s frumpy outfit to Chris’ vampy clothes to the elegant prom gear.  Joshua Mullady proves that he may be the city’s best lighting designer as his lights once more become extra characters in the show as they enhanced scenes with evil reds, hopeful glows, and soft romance.  Daena Schweiger’s sound and visuals really added that something extra to the show.

There were a few missed notes during some of the songs and some of the cast needed to speak up and project more, but this is a quality production.  The numbers are catchy, the story is surprisingly profound, and the acting is quite powerful.  Get yourself a ticket to see this as, as the cast sings, it’ll be a night you’ll never forget.

Carrie:  The Musical continues at SNAP! Productions through June 25.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 8pm and Sundays at 6pm.  The June 25 show and an additional matinee on June 17 will be at 2pm.  Tickets are $25 ($20 for students, TAG members, Military, and seniors (55+) and all Thursday shows).  For tickets, call 402-341-2757 or visit www.snapproductions.com.  Due to strong language and mature themes, Carrie:  The Musical is not recommended for children.  SNAP! Productions is located at 3225 California Street in Omaha, NE.

SNAP! Productions Holding Auditions for Horror Musical

Carrie the Musical
directed by Todd Brooks

SNAP! Productions
3225 California Street
Omaha, NE 68108

Auditions begin at 6:30pm

 

SNAP! Productions’ Summer show, CARRIE The Musical, will have auditions on March 13th and 14 th. The run of the show will be from June 1 – 25 (Thursday – Sunday only). The rehearsals will start on April 19th. Todd Brooks will Direct and Music Direct with Joshua Mullady (Producing) and Jason DeLong (Choreographer).

Please have a memorized piece of music to sing. An accompanist will be provided, so have sheet music. NO acapella singing. Remember this is a rock score and most females need to be able to belt. Men need to sing something that shows off high notes. There will be dancing for the high school roles, so wear appropriate shoes and clothes. There will also be cold readings from the script.

 

SYNOPSIS

Carrie White is a misfit. At school, she’s an outcast who’s bullied by the popular crowd, and virtually invisible to everyone else. At home, she’s at the mercy of her loving but cruelly over-protective mother. But Carrie’s just discovered she’s got a special power, and if pushed too far, she’s not afraid to use it…

 

CAST BREAKDOWN
CARRIE WHITE:  (Female – able to look like a senior in high school)

A painfully shy outsider who, in spite of her best efforts to belong, has been the victim of her classmates’ cruel jokes since childhood, as well as her mother’s strict, biblically-ordained control at home. She transforms from ugly duckling into graceful-and then vengeful- swan. Vocally, she must be capable of lyrical sweetness as well as fierce power.

 

MARGARET WHITE:  (Female – Carrie’s Mom – 40’s to 50’s)

A woman of visceral extremes, she balances her fervent religious convictions with equally sincere true-believer spirituality and tender, maternal love for Carrie. Like Carrie, with whom she shares several duets, her voice must range from expressive and melodic to ferocious and frightening.

 

SUE SNELL:  (Female – able to look like a senior in high school)

A straight-A student who’s been popular her entire life, she’s remarkably level headed for her age. Her unthinking participation in a cruel act of bullying causes a crisis of conscience that leads her on a journey to try to right things. Vocally, she has a pop ballad voice that delivers sweet sincerity and strength.

 

TOMMY ROSS:  (Male – able to look like a senior in high school)

Popular star athlete, valedictorian, and all around stand-out, he’s the boy that all the girls want to be with, and all the boy want to be. Yet he also has unexpected, quirky sensitivity and is just starting to mine his personal life and feelings – a budding poet. His voice should have an effortless pop quality.

 

CHRIS HARGENSEN:  (Female – able to look like a senior in high school)

Rich, spoiled-rotten, and wickedly funny, Chris is a popular beauty whose arrogant self-assurance makes her believe that the rules don’t apply to her. Loaded with sexual dynamite, she has serious daddy and anger-management issues. Her voice is pop-rock percussive and powerful.

 

BILLY NOLAN:  (Male – able to look like a senior in high school)

Now in his sixth year in high school, Billy’s a sexy, stupid·like-a-fox bad boy whose wise mouth troublemaking has led him to spend more time in detention than in class. All these qualities make it easy for his girlfriend Chris to manipulate him to do her bidding. His voice is that of a wailing rocker.

 

MISS LYNN GARDNER:  (Female – able to play mid 30’s)

Mid-30s, this girls’ P.E. teacher can be a strict disciplinarian if necessary, but when Carrie arouses her maternal instinct, she surprises herself by also revealing a protective “fairy godmother” side. Her voice is warm and strong, just like the woman.

 

MR. STEPHENS: (Male – able to play mid 30’s)

Late-30s, this well-intentioned English teacher and guidance counselor struggles to help his students realize their potential. A dedicated educator, he’s stretched thin in his duties, woefully underpaid, and a bit overwhelmed as to how to handle the Billy Nolans of the classroom combat zone.

 

NORMA:  (Female – able to look like a senior in high school)

Bitchy, gossipy and a shameless suck-up to authority, Norma is second-in-command to Chris’ queen bee.

 

FRIEDA:  (Female – able to look like a senior in high school)

Sue’s brainy pal, she’s an easy-going, get-along follower and a tireless extracurricular committee volunteer.

 

HELEN:  (Female – able to look like a senior in high school)

Giggly and easily shocked, her immaturity and need to belong make her the perfect example of the herd mentality.

 

GEORGE:  (Male – able to look like a senior in high school)

Tommy’s jock wingman since childhood, George idolizes him. Perhaps a little too much …

 

STOKES:  (Male – able to look like a senior in high school)

A bit of a nerd, he’s happy to be included as one of Tommy’s posse.

 

FREDDY:  (Male – able to look like a senior in high school)

The wisecracking class clown and official yearbook photographer, be can’t believe any girl would ever give him the time of day.

Any questions, please contact Todd Brooks @ Brooks1965@aol.com. Please put “Carrie The Musical” in the subject line.