★★★★☆ - Delicious
“Carrie the Musical” is a delicious, Four Star presentation at Majestic Repertory Theatre running through May 28th. Making its Las Vegas premiere just in time for prom season, Director Troy Heard has assembled a very talented and diverse ensemble to present the notorious cult musical drama as the final production of the inaugural season at Majestic Repertory Theatre.
Young Carrie White is a misfit at her high school in present day Chamberlain, Maine. 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 that she has telekinetic powers -- and if pushed too far, she's not afraid to use them.
The curtain rises on Sue Snell, a childhood friend of Carrie’s who is being interrogated about her recollections of past events. Sue (endearingly portrayed by Annabella Hunt) is one of the more popular girls at school and is also dating the handsome leader of the football team.
This initial solo cross-examination smoothly segues into a full classroom/cafeteria scene with the entire school-aged company singing in well-blended harmony and moving in tight formations across the entire stage, eventually ending in the girls’ locker room where Carrie is hazed by the other girls because she has experienced her first menstrual cycle, and is quite mortified.
Although the script and storyline are weak, the musical direction (by Gianni Matteo) and musical staging (by Jayme Haines and Alex Ferdinand) are nicely balanced and powerfully executed by this capable cast. Tennessee Spelmane’s set appropriately disappears within the confines of the simple and unadorned performance space, and is well-suited to the shifting mosaic of time, place and memory that frames the story in Sue Snell’s mind. In every respect, the creative elements effectively support and enhance the performers and their musical talents, to the credit of Cory Covell and Todd Von Bastiaans (lighting), along with Kathy Wusnack and Shannon Reffner (costumes). Unfortunately at times, the orchestration was often too loud to hear the lyrics, whether on solos or chorus numbers. But I expect that sound designers Kat Gonzalez and Rosario Medina will make the necessary adjustments going forward.
Arianna Mercy (Carrie) and Annette Houlihan Verdolino (Carrie’s mother, Margaret) carried off their solos and duets with exceptional ease, while establishing a powerful bond and the strengths of their respective characters.
Among the biggest bragging rights in the theater world is being able to say “I saw ‘Carrie,” -- the 1988 production starring Linzi Hateley as the blood-soaked title character and Betty Buckley as her fanatical mother. Though the show was a flop, it became an object of cult fascination. “Carrie” has been revisited by the original creative team and given a fresh makeover that restores its Stephen King grittiness. The show's original authors have reworked and fully re-imagined a vision of this gripping tale.