With today being Halloween, there have been so many Spooky, Dark, and Haunting themed shows that have wowed The Great Bright Way!! One of those notable shows turned out to be a huge box office flop….. Carrie: The Musical.
In case anyone may not know, CARRIE is based on a best-selling Stephen King novel and the 1976 film. It tells the tale of an awkward coming-of-age teenage girl with telekinetic powers, bullied by her classmates, and living a life with her psycho super religious mother. The musical features an original score by Michael Gore, lyrics by Dean Pitchford, and a book by Lawrence D. Cohen.
The inspiration to translate CARRIE into a musical came from Lawrence D. Cohen (who also did the screenplay for the famous 1976 film) after attending a performance of "Lulu" at The Metropolitan Opera. He wanted to give the story of CARRIE a full Theatrical vibe. Cohen (doing the book) hired Michael Gore to work on the score. Gore got his FAME co-writer collaborator Dean Pitchford to work on the lyrics. The show went through its early development readings and labs in the Summer of 1981 before getting the Green Light for a full scale production in 1986. Full funding for the show was not raised till the following year of 1987.
It had its official WORLD PREMIERE run across the pond in Stratford-Upon-Avon with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1988. Under the direction of Terry Hands and choreography by Debbie Allen, the cast was led by….
West End star Linzi Hately as "Carrie White",
Sally Ann Triplett as "Sue Snell",
legendary singer Darlene Love as "Ms. Gardner",
Paul Gygnell as "Tommy Ross",
Tony nominee Charlotte d'Amboise as "Chris Hargensen",
Gene Anthony Way as "Billy Nolan",
the late Barbara Cook as "Margret White".
The Strafford-Upon-Avon run of CARRIE turned out to be a huge disaster. It was known some crazy numerous technical problems including….
the crew not able dump the fake pig blood at Hately's "Carrie White" during the famous climax scene at the prom (so her mic wouldn't have problems),
majority of the book and score kept going through rewrites,
Barbara Cook dropped out from the production following an onstage accident and almost being hit by a major set piece. She stayed with the show till a replacement came in,
and reports of jeers and boos from the audience (including during the Opening Number).
With trying to revamp the whole show, CARRIE made its way back to our New York City backyard making the jump to Broadway's Virginia Theatre (currently the August Wilson Theatre). The production turned out to become the Greatest Flop of the 1980's in Broadway History!!!! It ran for only a total of 21 performances. By the time the show closed, the produced lost more than $7 million on the entire show.
Majority of the Strafford Upon Avon company continued with the show for Broadway with the exception of Cook dropping out. She was replaced by the Tony winning legend Betty Buckley (who notably played the Gym Teacher in the 1976 film version of CARRIE) as "Margret White".
With its Broadway Opening Night, jeers and boos were given to the entire company during the curtain call. However, only Linzi Hately and Betty Buckley were the only 2 performances who received acclaimed standing ovations.
24 years later since the horrific times of the original production, MCC Theater presented a revamped version of CARRIE THE MUSICAL for today's audience. The revival reunited Gore, Pitchford, and Cohen to write 7 new songs for the show replacing 7 songs from the original version. The story was changed to the present day and inspired by various news reports of people being bullied (including notably teenagers / young adults taking their lives because of all this). This new version went through 3 1/2 years of development labs.
The newly updated CARRIE made its professionally staging debut in 2012 playing Off Broadway's Lucille Lortel Theatre for a limited run of 80 performances total. Under the direction of Strafford Arima and choreographed by Matt Williams, the cast was led by….
Molly Ranson as "Carrie White",
Christy Altomare as "Sue Snell",
Tony nominee Carmen Cusack as "Ms. Gardner",
Tony nominee Derek Klena as "Tommy Ross",
Broadway and West End star Jeanna de Waal as "Chris Hargensen",
Ben Thompson as "Billy Nolan",
the late Tony nominee Marin Mazzie as "Margret White".
The first official World Premiere Cast Recording featuring the Off Broadway cast was released in 2021 from Ghostlight Records.
Today, that revamped version of CARRIE THE MUSICAL is now being performed in schools, community, and regional theatres everywhere.
Here is B-Roll proshot footage of that recent revamped Off Broadway revival.
Isn't this show insane?!!