Review: Carrie The Musical

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

This production is packed with powerhouse performances. Carrie is a complex and demanding musical, forcing the cast to bear their souls emotionally and physically on stage. These are all complex, three-dimensional characters that highlight actors’ abilities to really demonstrate both the light and shade in their roles. This cast more than rise to the challenge here, with an extremely memorable and captivating performance that stayed with me long after the final note.  

Carrie is arguably one of the most vocally demanding roles out there but Spillane smashes it from the first note.

kills it in the titular role. Right from the start, Carrie is marked out as different through her isolation, being shoved out by the cast. I loved how the staging physically excludes her and often places her away from the spotlight. It is only as she grows in confidence that she begins to place herself more centre stage, before often skulking in corners or just out of the light. Carrie is arguably one of the most vocally demanding roles out there but Spillane smashes it from the first note. Her voice is infused with that pure authenticity and emotion that makes you fall in love with Carrie. Your heart just fills with hope for Carrie, despite knowing the iconic plotline and particular scenes that are yet to unfold. Kirsty Dunsire’s costuming is excellent in highlighting her isolation, with her initial costume just that touch too old-fashioned compared to the modern feel of the rest of the cast. However, by the climactic prom scene, her costume has been updated to reflect her increased confidence and self-awareness. Similarly, the combined directorial and staging choices from and reflect this development through the staging of her telekinesis. Initially, Carrie’s powers are shown through lighting and soundscape at first, before becoming physical with onstage effects. They grow with her and Spillane’s heartfelt performance invites the audience to fall in love with her at the same time. 

Jones gave me actual chills from her singing, bringing that perfect balance of commanding and loving in her own twisted way.

Another standout performer amongst this stellar cast has to be as Margaret White. Jones gave me actual chills from her singing, bringing that perfect balance of commanding and loving in her own twisted way. She commands the stage every time she sets foot on it, with an accompaniment of these almost childlike, quietly menacing sounds. These are some of the most difficult scenes to watch, with the emotional and physical abuse interwoven with religious fanaticism and trauma. Jones just explodes in this complex role, with a gorgeously powerful voice and some of the best acting I’ve seen for a while. If nothing else, go purely to watch Jones and Spillane perform ‘And Eve Was Weak’. 

Despite a few technical issues, this cast rises above the noise and delivers a phenomenal performance. I have to highlight as Chris Hargensen, who allows for moments of surprising vulnerability to emerge within her hardened villainous exterior. I was so drawn in by every performance, but I loved how as Mrs Gardner grabbed every opportunity to shine with both hands. as Tommy Ross and as Sue Snell are excellent, showcasing that adorably sweet and lovable high school romance that really is a spot of light amongst the darkness.

This is a show that you lose yourself in but can never feel too comfortable in, as you’re aware of the dark turn everything is leading to.

’s lighting is stellar. It just feels intuitively attached to the plot, perfectly matching every beat. The opening scene of Sue’s recount has this incredibly harsh lighting, turning the spotlight into an interrogation backed up by the menacing chant of the ensemble. They are shrouded in shadow, adding that element of fear and the unknown. Thurtle returns to this method multiple times throughout the production, each time as effectively as the last. The ensemble has a lot demanded of them here, as they become a Greek chorus, choir and interrogators around their high school characters. Luckily, they switch between different roles effectively and often change the tone in a way that feels refreshing or foreboding depending on the moment. The staging of them as a Greek chorus adds that extra tinge of tragedy and ominous feeling to the production. This is a show that you lose yourself in but can never feel too comfortable in, as you’re aware of the dark turn everything is leading to. 

Spillane made ‘The Destruction’ look effortless, despite its difficulty, through her intensity and sheer vocal skill.

Inevitably, it all comes crashing down in a bloody visual spectacle. This was just so well staged and choreographed, feeling so believable and immersive. For me, this scene embodies the power and sheer intensity of theatre. and have to be commended here for their spectacular musical accompaniment to both this scene and the entire show. Spillane made ‘The Destruction’ look effortless, despite its difficulty, through her intensity and sheer vocal skill. Also, hats off to Goodall, Cooper and Robinson once more for orchestrating such a spectacularly staged, heart-wrenching scene. 

Carrie is a genuinely spell-binding show, with a heartfelt exploration of teenage angst and coming of age, only to be ripped apart by the carnage. This is not a show you can miss.

Image Credit: DULOG

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