January 16, 2018
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Cast of ‘Carrie the Musical’ overcome flaws in show

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

There’s a good reason “Carrie the Musical” isn’t performed as often as some equally dark musicals with themes of acceptance — its songs and lyrics are just plain bad. It also takes itself far too seriously.

But director Elaine Bard and the cast of “Carrie the Musical” overcome many of the show’s flaws by turning the Keith Anderson Community Center into Stephen King’s hellish high school, a place so hateful the prom queen uses her telekinetic powers to destroy it.

Some Theatre Company’s production is skillfully directed and features some eye-popping effects and fine performances that highlight the themes of King’s first published novel. Bard’s set, with the audience on three sides of the playing area, makes theatergoers feel like flies of the wall of the high school. They either want to join in and taunt Carrie or rush on stage to save her.

Bard, musical director Jason Wilkes and choreographer Becca Tinkham do their best to gloss over the flaws in Lawrence D. Cohen’s book and Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore’s score. The second act is better than the first act but the show is about 20 minutes too long.

Silvia Baxter (Carrie) gives a heartbreaking performance. She captures all the angst of the teenage years and the excitement Carrie feels at exploring her power to punish those who hurt her. Baxter belts out a song with bravado. She sings “Why Not Me?” with a sad and hopeful sincerity.

As Carrie’s deeply religious mother, Kari Stowe (Margaret White) gives an insightful and thoughtful performance that invokes understanding that verges on sympathy from the audience. She also is close enough to Baxter in age that Margaret’s obsession with Carrie falling for a boy’s charms almost makes sense.

Nichole Sparlin (Chris Hargensen) and Daniel J. Legere (Billy Nolan) make a wonderful badly behaved couple who together hatch the infamous plan to humiliate Carrie at the prom. Both expertly create shallow and teenagers who are incapable of empathy. They also offer some much needed comic relief in the dark story.

A cast standout is Robert Brangwynne (Tommy Ross), the boy who wants to do the right thing but also wants to fit in with his classmates. His sympathy toward Carrie is admirable and realistic despite Tommy’s need to be part of the crowd. Other cast standouts include Mickayla Burridge (Sue Snell) and Leslie Michaud (Miss Gardner).

The big problem at Sunday’s matinee was the amount of blood spilled looked like a trickle instead of a bucketful. The other effects, including the use of a strobe light and fog machine, worked well.

“Carrie the Musical” is not much of a meal for die-hard fans of musical theater but for Stephen King fans and theatergoers who prefer the macabre, it’s a feast.

“Carrie the Musical” will be performed through Sunday at the Keith Anderson Center in Orono. For information, visit http://carriestc.bpt.me/.

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