The New York Times
After reading some less than stellar reviews for the Off Broadway Carrie stage play reboot, we weren’t exactly expecting it to move on and light up Broadway, but the news of its demise two weeks ahead of schedule did come as a bit of a surprise.
Per The NY Times, Carrie closed as a result of poor ticket sales after the show opened to mixed to negative reviews. The production by MCC Theater did not earn all its money back. A cast album recording — a theatrical measure of success — has not been announced, though one is said to be in the works. And while the creators are emphatic that a Broadway transfer was never their hope, Broadway buzz is still a benchmark of any successful Off Broadway show, and in this case the silence was deafening.
Per the customs of New York theater, none of the producers would speak on the record; few if any producers are ever openly critical of a newly shuttered show produced by colleagues with whom they may work again. But several echoed the theater writer and critic Peter Filichia, who said he believed that Carrie was fundamentally unworkable.
“I see no reason to remount ‘Carrie’ at all,” Mr. Filichia said. “I have no advice on how to make it better. I can’t think of a thing. Mind you, I don’t hate it. I just don’t think it’s worth the effort.”
Such a conclusion feels like yet another cruelty hurled at Carrie, the musical’s three creators (Michael Gore, composer; Dean Pitchford, lyricist; and Lawrence D. Cohen, who wrote the book) said in a telephone interview. They put the onus of the abbreviated Off Broadway run on critics, contending that many of them chose not to assess the revival on its merits but to analyze it through the prism of the prior Broadway flop. Most major reviews of Carrie did compare the two productions, given the infamy of the original and the significant changes to the script and score for the revival.
The sharpest criticism was that Carrie had been de-camped to the point of dullness. Some critics and theater bloggers especially bemoaned the decision by the director Stafford Arima to forgo dumping red liquid over Carrie’s head during the prom. Mr. Arima used projections to convey the blood splattering, which Mr. Cohen termed a “gangbusters choice” and Mr. Pitchford described as a fresh approach that avoided recycling what worked best on film.
There’s more analysis of what went wrong in the Times article (click the link below), but on the plus side one successful result of the revival is that the musical would become a licensable property available for productions at high schools, colleges and regional theaters. After the 1988 Broadway production closed, the creators were so devastated that they refused hundreds of requests by directors and theater companies to stage Carrie until Mr. Arima pitched his vision. Now the creators are ready to say yes to productions and are already talking to one — SpeakEasy Stage Company in Boston — about doing Carrie next spring.
Mr. Cohen concludes with, “To be candid, yes, we’re disappointed that it didn’t run longer. But if the experience is bittersweet, it’s more sweet than bitter.”
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