Carrie

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Photograph: Joan Marcus

Carrie

2/4
Photograph: Joan Marcus

Carrie

3/4
Photograph: Joan Marcus

Carrie

4/4
Photograph: Joan Marcus

Carrie

The term horror musical is more or less synonymous with flop. Aside from the categorically exceptional Sweeney Todd, singing killers inspire more giggles than fear; Broadway is a graveyard for shows that have forced pop ballads from the mouths of mad scientists and vampires. Now the most infamous of all such corpses—the 1988 fiasco Carrie, adapted from Stephen King’s novel about a teenage girl with terrible powers—has been reanimated by director Stafford Arima for MCC Theater. And the most shocking thing about it is how well it works.

Extensively rewritten by Lawrence D. Cohen and disabused of its campier 1980s self-image, the new and improved Carrie is still most gripping in its quietest scenes: those between the plain title character (Ranson, compressed and composed) and her dour, harshly religious mother (a deeply compelling Mazzie). Powerfully acted and intensely well sung, these sequences feel real and weird, and Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford’s rock-pop score squeezes them for musical drama. The scenes at Carrie’s high school, where she is the object of cruel taunts—her telekinesis is like a symbolic extension of her nascent, confused sexuality—are less consistent, but Arima builds them swiftly and effectively. Improvements remain to be made: Several lyrics still clang on the ear; the show doesn’t quite fit in its framing device, the testimony of a simpering survivor of Carrie’s final carnage; and that climactic, violent sequence could be both clearer (in terms of staging) and messier (in terms of blood). But the musical as a whole has cleaned up remarkably nice. Welcome to the prom, Carrie. They’re not going to laugh at you now.—Adam Feldman

Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter.

Event phone: 212-727-7780
Event website: http://mcctheater.org
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