Carrie’s bad prom story tops them all.
Things seemed so promising at first. A cute guy asked her to be his date. She cleaned up nicely. So nicely, in fact, that her peers voted them king and queen of the dance hall. But then that whole pig blood incident happened, which is a shame. It kind of got under her skin, and she wound up in a bit of a deadly pickle.
Stephen King’s classic 1974 horror novel “Carrie” freaked out anybody who’d ever teased a classmate and vindicated those on the receiving end of said cruel taunts. A feature film came along in 1976, with Sissy Spacek in the title role. And then there was the musical.
Who’d have thought the bloody book would go on to become a Broadway show? It didn’t turn out quite as expected, though it never does, does it? After arriving on the Great White Way via England in 1988, audiences reportedly loved and applauded the 16 preview shows. Critics said, “Oh, no, you don’t,” and savaged the show in their reviews. Five performances and $8 million later, “Carrie” was shuttered and earned the moniker as one of the biggest Broadway debacles in history.
But, wait. “Carrie” wasn’t dead yet. Years later, some folks decided to take a second look and resurrect the spectacle. They removed and replaced songs, and finally presented a noteworthy off-Broadway revival in 2012. Since then, the musical has grown in popularity, with more theaters stepping up to mount the horror show.
Fine Arts Center Theatre Company will present “Carrie: The Musical: A Staged Concert” on Friday and Saturday at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.
“I just love it. It’s a notorious flop. I think the music is amazing,” said director Nathan Halvorson, who’s also FAC’s associate director of performing arts. “I’m one of those musical theater dorks who have watched all the bootleg versions of the original show.”
For those unfamiliar with King’s masterpiece, or who might only be familiar with the famous scene from the movie where blood pours over the blond Spacek’s head and torso, there’s a bigger backstory. Carrie White is the daughter of a fanatically religious and overprotective mother. King throws another frog in the boiling cauldron, though, and gives his main character telekinetic powers. That means she can move objects using her mind. If only the mean kids at Carrie’s high school who constantly bully her were let in on the secret. Things could have ended on a more positive note.
“Everybody can find something to relate to in the element of wanting to fit in, but not knowing how to,” said Casey Fetters, the 20-year-old University of Northern Colorado acting major who will star in the title role. “That’s her biggest struggle.”
For the past four or five years, “Carrie” has been a dream production and role for Fetters. She discovered it as a member of the FAC’s Youth Repertory program, where she starred as Hope Cladwell in “Urinetown,” along with other roles during her five years in the five-week summer theater intensive.
“There was a summer in Youth Rep where that’s all we listened to,” she said. “Then I read the book and watched the movie and all the horrible remakes.”
A staged concert is different than your typical musical. The audience can expect full costumes, lighting, scenic pieces, some dancing and movement, but actors also will use their scripts for much of it.
“You have to tell the story, but with less stuff,” Halvorson said. “It’s a hybrid between a reading and a fully realized show.”
And fear not, there will be plenty of blood.
“Absolutely,” he said. “You’re going to get your money’s worth on that.”
Youth Rep students account for a good portion of the cast, as well as several teachers who have taught for the program. Megan Van De Hey, who starred in the FAC’s 2018 production of the Tony Award-winning musical “Fun Home,” will star as Carrie’s mother, Margaret White.
Proceeds from “Carrie” will benefit the Youth Rep program and other FAC Theatre School classes.
“Using teen students from the program makes perfect sense,” Halvorson said. “It’s about what they are living through.”