Friday, 8 May 2015

Review: Carrie The Musical at the Southwark Playhouse

Carrie The Musical 
Southwark Playhouse
Reviewed on Thursday 7th May 2015

Carrie The Musical first premiered in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1988 before transferring straight to New York where it became the most expensive flop in Broadway history. Based on Stephen King's bestselling novel, the piece - which has music by Michael Gore, lyrics by Dean Pitchford and book by Lawrence D. Cohen - has never been staged in London... until now.

Evelyn Hoskins stars as Carrie, a bullied school girl with extraordinary powers. Many immediately associate Carrie with death and blood, but the show actually has a great deal of heart. Hoskins' portrayal is well crafted as she guides us through Carrie's transformation. You can't help but grow to care for the character and, of course, her final outburst is one to remember. 

The talented cast bring modern musical theatre influences to the score which features everything from full out, energised high school numbers to big belty songs and gentle, heartfelt melodies. Hoskins' vocals are on point, she makes quite an impression at the start of the piece with the title number and from thereafter she only gets stronger.

Kim Criswell is phenomenal as Carrie's controlling mother who lives in a dark, dark world. Every aspect of Criswell's performance is masterful with her rendition of 'When There's No One' providing one of the evening's many highlights.

Elsewhere Jodie Jacobs shines as Carrie's teacher, bringing warmth to her scenes opposite Hoskins. With one of the most dazzling voices in musical theatre, Jacobs' vocals soar during musical numbers. Greg Miller Burns greatly impresses as love interest Tommy, performing with natural charm and effortless vocals – he is certainly one to watch. 

Gary Lloyd's production is full of surprises, flowing from one extreme to another. Tim McQuillen-Wright's design is remarkable for such a small, off-West End production. I don't want to give anything away, but when Carrie makes her mark the set comes into its own. 

I previously knew very little about Carrie The Musical other than it flopped on Broadway; however, after enjoying this production so much I can’t work out why it has taken so long to bring Carrie to London. The score is both stunning and punchy, the subject matter makes a refreshing change from your average musical and the cast are out of this world.

The most exciting thing about Lloyd's production is its potential. The piece lends itself well to an intimate space, but I can see the experience being enhanced in a larger house if the design were up-scaled. Nothing beats discovering a musical as special as Carrie for the first time. I often find that shows which rely on blood and horror can struggle to effectively translate on stage, but Carrie goes above and beyond the horror genre. Behind the blood and beyond the darkness is a touching story of self-discovery, and I loved every second.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Carrie The Musical runs at the Southwark Playhouse until 30th May 2015.
Please visit for info and tickets.

Photo Credit: Claire Bilyard 

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