Yes, she can move things with her mind, but who knew Carrie can sing? The tormented telekinetic character from the 1974 Stephen King novel displays her vocal chops Feb. 7 through March 9 in the Beck Center for the Arts' revival of the off-Broadway production. Carrie the Musical will feature a mix of Baldwin Wallace University students and equity actors who have previously starred in Beck Center shows. We talked to Victoria Bussert, the director of the show and director of the BW music theatre program, about her reasons for reviving one of the largest musical theater disasters to hit Broadway and how far a little blood can go.
Q. Why did you want to stage Carrie the Musical?
A. When it was first produced as a musical in the '80s, it was kind of considered the biggest disaster in musical theater. ... It just became about big Broadway-style numbers that weren't telling the story. ... When you look at Stephen King's reason for writing Carrie, he based that character on two girls that he saw bullied when he was growing up in school. Stafford Arima, the director of the off-Broadway revival, cut down the size of the cast and made it much more a production that tells the story about Carrie. It's a story that will generate its own conversations about how we treat other people who are different than we are.
Q. What kind of music can the audience expect?
A. The show opens with a song called "In," and it's done by all the popular kids in the high school talking about how the most important thing for a high school teenager is to be part of the in group. It's sort of a rock sound, and we'll be using hip-hop choreography. ... That contrasts dramatically to the music that we hear in Carrie's home with her mother, and there is an almost operatic quality to the exchanges between them.
Q. How much blood will there be?
A. There will be a lot. There's a very emblematic image that people have of Carrie at the prom with the blood dropping. When we started talking about the show last summer, we said, 'We have to start with this image. We have to figure out how we can actually execute that blood dropping and build the rest of the visual images around that.' We'll probably use between four to five gallons a night. We designed it in a way where the blood will be confined to Carrie, because she'll be in an elevated place.
Q. How has the story adapted over time?
A. The new film was not terribly well received, so I wouldn't say we're getting any cues from that, but I think it's interesting how social media has brought the issue of bullying far more front and center. I think in ways people now bully, in terms of posting on Facebook, those sorts of elements will be incorporated into the production in a way that didn't exist in the original film or the original musical. The script describes, for example, in that first locker room scene that people pull out their cellphones and start taking pictures and texting. ... I think it's great to include social media because it is something that everybody is dealing with today.