The biggest challenge for the director of Shot in the Dark Productions’ “Carrie: The Musical” is keeping the story fresh and compelling when almost everybody already knows the bloody ending.
“At the prom, she gets blood dumped on her and all that -- they’re expecting that,” said Adam Gonshorowski. “How do we make the rest of the show interesting?”
But that’s not the only chip on the shoulder of “Carrie: The Musical.” When the musical was first released in the late 1980s, it gained a notoriously bad reputation and has since been considered one of the worst flops ever made until its revival in 2012. The Broadway show was so bad that it spawned the title of a 1992 book, “Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops.”
The Shot in the Dark cast is unfazed by the musical’s dark past, shrugging off the poorly made show as just a victim of the ’80s -– much like parachute pants or fanny packs. Lydia Prior, who stars as the titular character, said the revival version produced by the local theater is much better when it comes to the plot and the music.
“There’s not a song that can be easily cut or a scene that can be easily cut,” said Prior. “Everything in the show is vital.”
The music, especially. The rock ’n’ roll songs are what make this interpretation of Stephen King’s 1974 novel “Carrie” innately different from all the other versions.
David Chapman, who plays Tommy Ross in the musical, said the music actually develops the story and its characters more than what is revealed in the 1976 film, especially the troubled relationship between Carrie and her mother.
“You don’t see her motives of why she does this to Carrie,” Chapman said of the fanatically religious and abusive Margaret White. “In the musical, it has all this internal monologue of what she’s actually going through and what she wants for her daughter.”
Prior said Carrie’s mother in particular is portrayed as someone who isn’t entirely evil.
“In the musical, you get to see more of the caring, motherly side of the mom,” she said. “You never see that in the movies.”
In a sense, “Carrie: The Musical” differs from other adaptations in that it is somewhat grounded in reality -- as much as it can be with a character who has powerful telekinetic abilities. At least, that’s the approach Gonshorowski has taken when directing the show.
“These telekinetic powers come from a victim of circumstance rather than a point of origin,” he said. “It lets the audience take that leap with us. With that, we have to approach all those personal relationships [Carrie] has throughout the show and everything else that leads up to those moments with reality and sincerity and make it feel like you’re witnessing everyday high school life and drama with song and dance… and superpowers.”
So what else can audiences look forward to in Shot in the Dark Productions' "Carrie: The Musical?"
"One gallon of blood every night," said Gonshorowski.
Prior, visibly stunned, exclaimed, "A gallon?"