Sunday, May 18, 2014

See it, woman!


Me: Did you see the original 'Carrie; The Musical'?
Theatre Queen #1 : No, I wasn't in New York that weekend.

That was my first exposure to 'Carrie: The Musical'; and that exchange took place in the spring of 1990 or so.  At that time, it was the floppiest of all Broadway flops, and I knew very little about it.
I'd read the book and seen the movie, but the musical was completely foreign to me.
Fast forward about 7 years to 'Showtune Night' at Luxor in Boston's Back Bay when there on the screen (on a good night) we were all treated to a few numbers from the original Broadway production.  The quality was pretty horrible, but it was a treat, nonetheless.  The opening number was certainly something to see (YIKES) but one of the more popular clips was of Betty Buckley (in the role of Margaret White) and Linzi Hateley (in the role of Carrie) performing 'And Eve Was Weak', which was an incredibly cool moment to witness (it's out on YouTube, if you're so inclined).
Fast forward once again, this time about 17 years to the present day, where 'Carrie: The Musical' has once again been brought back into my life.

Last Monday night I was fortunate enough to see the opening night performance of 'Carrie: The Musical' at SpeakEasy Stage Company in Boston.  When SpeakEasy announced the show as part of their 2013-2014 season last year, I was VERY excited. I wasn't able to make it to New York to see the 2012 revival , since I wasn't in the city that weekend... Kidding!  The 2012 off-Broadway production had a fairly decent run, but still closed two weeks earlier than originally planned. 
The fact that SpeakEasy was planning on producing the Boston premiere was perfect.  The show was right up their alley as far as I was concerned.  A little bit edgy, off the beaten path, and it was something that I thought their usual audience would enjoy.
After seeing the show on Monday, I am quite confident that it will be yet another success that they can add to their list.
As I've said previously, I'm not a theatre reviewer, so you'll have to bear with me. 

In the two most well known roles of Carrie and Margaret White, Elizabeth Erardi (Carrie) and Kerry A. Dowling (Margaret) were a great match.  Their number 'And Eve Was Weak' not only sounded fantastic, but the staging and physicality of the number made it one of my favorite numbers of the night. I loved watching Kerry, particularly when she was giving you full-on, crazy Margaret.  If you want to see what I'm talking about, the next time you see her, tell her that you're going to the Prom.  :-)
Elizabeth has a fantastic voice that is able to convey lots of power but also some quiet, more reserved, moments as well and I really enjoyed her portrayal of the bullied and sheltered Carrie White.

 Elizabeth Erardi and Kerry A. Dowling in the SpeakEasy Stage production of CARRIE THE MUSICAL. Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.



As the 'mean girl' Chris Hargenson (or should I say the leader of all the 'mean girls'), Paige Berkovitz might just be my favorite new discovery of the year.  Not only was she PERFECT as the ringleader of the 'bad kids' who make Carrie's day to day life a nightmare, but holy mackerel, can this girl SING! Seriously, she sounded amazing, and I wanted more.  Like, "Hi, here's a phone book, now sing it back to me." more. Phil Tayler made a great bad boy in the role of Billy Nolan, Chris' boyfriend.  During the number 'Do Me A Favor' we were given a little taste of what it's like for Billy to live under the thumb of his ruthless, demanding, and spoiled girlfriend.

Paige Berkovitz and Phil Tayler in the SpeakEasy Stage production of CARRIE THE MUSICAL. Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.

 Speaking of wanting more....Sarah Drake, in her third SpeakEasy appearance, plays Sue Snell, the mean girl with a conscience.  Her voice is suited perfectly for this role, and her number 'Once You See' is fantastic.  She does a great job conveying Sue's frustration when she attempts to make things right with Carrie but it doesn't go as planned.  Sue's boyfriend, Tommy Ross is played by Joe Longthorne. Their duet 'You Shine' was a delightful glimpse into their relationship, and their voices were a really great pairing. 

Joe Longthorne and Sarah Drake in the SpeakEasy Stage production of CARRIE THE MUSICAL. Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.

Shonna Cirone, makes her SpeakEasy debut in the role of Miss Gardner and I really hope she's back on the SpeakEasy stage soon!  She's saddled with being not only the taskmaster who has to deal with a gaggle of troublesome teens, but she also serves as the caring, normal, not-insane, mother figure in Carrie's life. The scene leading up to Miss Gardner's duet with Carrie ('Unsuspecting Hearts') was one of my favorite moments of the show and the song was outstanding.  Shonna's got a great voice, and this number really showed it off.

Shonna Cirone and Elizabeth Erardi in the SpeakEasy Stage production of CARRIE THE MUSICAL. Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.
 
John Costa did a nice job in dual roles of Reverend Bliss/Mr. Stephens, and the 6 person ensemble rounded out the rest of the cast quite well.  Special mention goes out to to Amanda Lopez as Norma for her commitment to the character and her delivery of a particular line (in reference to Carrie's sweater) that had me in hysterics.  Also, kudos to Daniel Scott Walton as George for bringing lots of humor to what could have been a throw away ensemble role.

Paige Berkovitz (left front) and Sarah Drake (right front) in the SpeakEasy Stage production of CARRIE THE MUSICAL. Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.
 
Of course, this production wouldn't have been what it was without Paul Melone on hand, not only as Carrie's director, but as SpeakEasy's General Manager and Production Manager. He wasn't only the brains behind all the technical aspects of the production, which were quite impressive, but he was also one of the people who was responsible for assembling this incredibly talented cast. 
Carrie's musical director is Nicholas James Connell, who I have to thank for making the cast (as well as the 6 person orchestra) sound as great as they did. When I think back to the many musical moments that I consider highlights of the evening, I really have to give Nicholas a virtual standing ovation for creating the sound that he did. 
Larry Sousa, who returns to SpeakEasy for a second time after choreographing last season's 'In The Heights' once again does an excellent job keeping things interesting and brings an entirely different style of choreography to the SpeakEasy stage. I look forward to seeing him back at SpeakEasy again!!
OK, I've been writing forever at this point, so if you're still reading this, thank you!  Seriously, if you're even remotely on the fence about whether or not to see this production, GO!!!  The cast is fantastic, the vocals alone are worth the price of the ticket, and it tells a very relevant and important story.
Besides...don't you want to be able to say that you saw 'Carrie: The Musical'?!?!?!?

Elizabeth Erardi in the SpeakEasy Stage production of CARRIE THE MUSICAL. Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.


2 comments:

Blobby said...

i bet the song about her period is a hoot!!!

Egawy Blog said...

Good article thanks

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