Carrie - The Musical was a stage adaptation of Stephen King's novella, "Carrie". The book was written by Lawrence D Cohen, Michael Gore wrote the music and Dean Pitchford wrote the Lyrics. The show was produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and had it's first 4 week run (following workshops) in Stratford and had mixed reviews. The stars of the show were Barbara Cook and a very young Linzi Hateley in her first stage role.
With the securing of funding, it was decided to take the show to the Virgina Theatre on Broadway, with Director Terry Hands spending a fairly huge (for 1988) 8 million dollars on the production. Linzi Hateley, and many of the other cast transferred to Broadway, but Barbara Cook was replaced by Betty Buckley. It was felt that the show might work better in America given that the story was American.
After 15 previews to really quite enthusiastic audiences, the show opened to devastating reviews. After a production meeting the decision was taken to close the show after only 5 performances, confirming Carrie's place in history as the most expensive flop musical of all time.
No official cast recording or DVD was made of the show, but illicit sound-desk recordings from both Stratford and Broadway exist along with footage shot from the audience, and the B-reel review tape that was sent to various journalists to promote the show.
The show opens in the gym of Carrie's school, where Miss Gardner, a PE teacher, and her students are having their PE class. The girls sing about the importance of popularity and looking good, and express their need to be in style, to conform and follow all the informal rules of high school society (In). At the end of the song the lights focus on Carrie, in the corner of the gym, who offers a prayer to God to help her escape, or send her mama to rescue her (Dear Lord). The school bell rings and the scene changes to the shower room as the girls all call Carrie names. The girls sing about boys and their prom dreams whilst showering (Dream On), except for Carrie who dreams only of being liked. We learn that Sue and Tommy, two of the most popular kids in the school, are an item, and intend to go to the prom together. The song continues as the girls get dressed leaving Carrie alone in the shower.
Suddenly, the girls hear screams from the shower room. It's Carrie, who cries out that she's 'dying'. The girls soon discover that Carrie is having her period. Instead of helping her, or explaining what's happening, the class, led by Chris, one of the dominant girls, cruelly begins to taunt Carrie, telling her to 'plug it up', and that she 'has the curse'! Miss Gardner enters and, after calming the class, does the one thing she thinks will bring Carrie out of her hysterics; she slaps her. Seemingly magically, the light explodes. The girls leave, and in the dialogue we learn the depth of Chris's hatred for Carrie, and that Sue feels sorry for Carrie. Chris nicknames her "Scary White". Carrie is left alone on stage (Carrie) and sings about her feelings, finally declaring "Some day - Someone will know my name".
As Carrie leaves the changing room, she encounters the boys gym class, among whom is Tommy. Tommy and the boys who discuss the drive-in they are to attend that night, and, upon noticing Carrie, begin to tease her, except for Tommy, who tells them to back off. Tabs open to reveal the White Home and Carrie's mother, Margaret White, praying (Open Your Heart). Upon her arrival home, Carrie joins her mother in prayer. At the end of the song Carrie tells her mother about the incident in her PE class. Margaret is enraged and tells Carrie that she has the curse of blood due to her sinful ways (And Eve Was Weak), that she will be damned, and must pray to God to forgive her. She forces a frightened Carrie into the cellar, and prays for her daughter's salvation.
The scene changes to the drive-in movie, where the boys and their girlfriends have gathered. Sue discusses Carrie with Tommy, and, obviously upset about the day's events, asks him to take her home, while Chris argues with her boyfriend Billy, telling him that all he thinks about is sex (Don't Waste the Moon).
We return to the White Home, for Evening Prayers. Carrie prays but reveals that she feels something is changing within her. Margaret prays for the strength to help Carrie and sends her to bed. She talks to Carrie, explaining that she does not want to hurt her but to save her. Both Carrie and her mother reassure themselves by saying that they love each other.
The scene changes to the gymnasium the next day. Miss Gardner forces all of the girls to apologize to Carrie. They all do so reluctantly except for Chris, who, unable to humble herself, cries out that "Carrie White eats shit!". In response to her outburst, Miss Gardner bans Chris from the upcoming prom. As Chris exits, vowing her revenge, Miss Gardner comforts Carrie and encourages her to wait for her Prince Charming (Unsuspecting Hearts).
The scene changes to a nightspot where all the kids are hanging out. Sue persuades Tommy to ask Carrie to the prom, as she still feels guilty about taunting Carrie. Chris, on the other hand, orders her boyfriend, Billy, to help her get revenge on Carrie (Do me a Favour). Finally Chris reveals the nature of her revenge, asking Billy to get her pigs' blood ("Pigs' blood for a pig, Billy: pigs' blood for a pig!"), while Tommy surrenders to Sue's pleading.
Back at the White Home, Carrie informs her mother that Tommy has asked her to the prom (I've Been Invited to the Prom). Margaret is furious, and vehemently refuses, on the grounds that she believes that Tommy wishes to take advantage of Carrie (I Remember How Those Boys Could Dance), which culminates in a violent argument where Margaret slaps Carrie. Carrie unleashes the power of her mind, pushing Margaret into a chair and creating a wall of flames around her as she sings "Nothing you can say or do will ever stop me again",While carrie's hands are aflame. This is the ending the first Act.
Act 2 opens at the pig farm with Billy and his gang killing pigs (Out for Blood) in order to collect blood for Chris' revenge. Once the blood has been harvested, we cut back to High School, where Sue is arguing with the other girls. The girls demand that Sue apologize to them for spoiling the prom for them: none of them want Carrie to go. However, Sue stands by her decision, and, disgusted, the gang exiles her from their midst. Sue knows her decision was right and sings It Hurts to be Strong (In the original London Cast version, this was replaced by a song called White Star, in which Sue hopes that Tommy won't forget about her).
In the meanwhile, at the White Home, Carrie is elated that she is going to the prom and has sewn her own prom gown. She sings to herself (I'm Not Alone) and, in one of the more uplifting scenes in the show, makes her shoes, hairbrush and dress dance around the stage. Margaret tries once again to convince Carrie that she is making a mistake (Carrie: Reprise), asking her to stay home with her and apologizing for her earlier outburst, but Carrie is adamant about going, reasoning that "they might like me". Tommy picks Carrie up, and Margaret is left alone. Lamenting the loss of her daughter, she reflects on what else she could do, and hints darkly at what lies ahead for her and Carrie. (When There's No One).
The kids turn up for the prom in Wotta Night. They are all surprised at how beautiful Carrie looks. Miss Gardiner is in attendance as the chaperone and talks to Carrie again to reassure her (Unsuspecting Hearts: Reprise). Tommy wants to dance, and eventually persuades the reluctant Carrie (Heaven). As the two whirl around the dance floor, Tommy realizes that he's falling for Carrie, just as Sue thought he would. When the voting starts for the prom King and Queen, Tommy wants to vote for himself and Carrie, but Carrie is frightened. Tommy eventually persuades her, and the two vote for themselves. As this happens, Sue is heartbroken over Tommy's betrayal, and Chris and Billy prepare for their revenge (Heaven: Reprise). Finally, the winners of the vote are announced: Tommy and Carrie are declared the Prom King and Queen, by only one vote. They walk down to the stage to the applause of the other students (Alma Mater).
In a change from the book, Chris and Billy, who have sneaked into the prom, run onstage and throw the pigs' blood over Carrie. Someone laughs, and soon all the kids are laughing. Carrie finally snaps, believing the cruel prank to be a set-up, and commences The Destruction, echoing her mother's earlier admonishments and commanding the students to 'pray for their own salvation from damnation'. She uses her powers to collapse the school, killing them all.
Carrie then descends to the school stairs, still covered in blood and falls into the arms of her waiting mother (Carrie: Reprise). Instead of comforting Carrie, Margaret decides to save her, and stabs her with a kitchen knife. Although she is now dying, Carrie uses her powers once more, by killing her mother by giving her a heart attack. Carrie crawls away, more falls down the stairs, and the show closes with Sue, who, by nature of not going to the prom, survives, comforting the dying Carrie.
The famous Stagedoor Manor theater camp performed their own version of Carrie in 1999. This was an unlicensed production (amateur performing rights have never been released for Carrie) , and much to the surprise of all involved, Michael Gore turned up for one of the performances. Whilst he castigated Stage Door for producing the Musical without permission, he allowed the run to be completed, having enjoyed seeing the show, and the re-worked ending created by the production team.
Rumours are that a West End revival is in the works for 2007, but they are, as of now, unsubstantiated.