It’s been a long time coming “Carrie” fans. And I’m thoroughly pleased to report that it has been more than worth the wait. That hold-up was rapidly approaching a quarter of a century, my friends. But the official “Carrie” the musical premiere cast recording has arrived. It was delivered to my mailbox roughly a fortnight ago, after a brief unexplained delay(I had pre-ordered via my Barnes & Noble account in mid-September). Ever since, it has bumped Bob Dylan’s latest work to the secondary slot on my car’s playlist. No longer do we have to rely solely on memory(or grainy YouTube videos)of Betty Buckley and Linzi Hateley belting their hearts out in the much-maligned original Broadway version from 1988(as previously reported, I was there in ’88—and I have my Playbill and ticket stub to prove it!). And MCC Theater’s off-Broadway cast from the show’s revival this past spring, has knocked it out of the park with this recording. Hey, it’s never going to be a perfect show, but this new revival and premiere recording has gone a long way in providing some lustre to an unfairly lambasted production. I need no further evidence to the injustice of “Carrie”‘s reception than the fact that the execrable “Beauty and the Beast” musical ran on Broadway for over 13 years. Btw, I got free tickets to that piece of junk—so don’t crucify me. As for “Carrie”, it’s wonderful that it now has the opportunity to garner new, enthusiastic fans. I hope Stephen king is beaming up in his Maine mansion as he listens to his very own copy. That’s my fantasy, anyway.
First off, the CD cover art is beautiful! The front of the booklet is mostly crimson(of course!), with a line of orange and yellow flames licking at a shadow of the title character(heroine?). Above the shadow’s head is an upper-case CARRIE in white lettering, and above that a drawing of a mirrored disco ball representing the now doomed senior prom. Slide out that booklet insert and you’ll discover over 40 pages of production photos, a full libretto and a heartfelt reminiscence from the writer of the book for the musical, Lawrence D. Cohen(who also penned the screenplay for the original 1976 film). Now slide that CD into a player and you’ll be transported to the tortured world of Carrie White, and listen as the poor girl’s “one brief shining moment” is perverted into an evening of unimaginable ridicule and eventual horrific destruction and death. You must know the basic plot elements of “Carrie” by now, but not since the original film have you had your emotions wringed as you will upon hearing this gorgeously reproduced score. Certain songs were removed for the revival reboot, so numbers like “Dream On” and “Out for Blood” from the ’88 Broadway version failed to resurface. However, you will glory as Marin Mazzie(as Carrie’s mother, Margaret)and Molly Ranson(as Carrie)operatically duel their way through “And Eve Was Weak” —one of the best numbers from both stage incarnations. There’s also Ranson’s toned-down and highly effective rendition of “Carrie”, a song that I recall being unbecomingly shrill in 1988. I adore the “Spring Awakening”-like tone of the first act opener “In”, and the peppy energy of “The World According To Chris”. And Marin Mazzie breaks my heart as she croons her way through the second act’s “When There’s No One”, and then breaks it again during the blood-soaked “Carrie” reprise.
It’s a fantastic time to be a “Carrie” fan, folks. First, the multiple award nominated and better received revival of the musical opened this past winter. Now, the over-achieving cast recording of that very same show. Next March brings us the film remake starring Chloe Grace Moretz(“Kick-Ass”, “Hugo”)as Carrie and Julianne Moore(“Game Change”, “The Kids Are All Right”)as Margaret White. And it’s being directed by the award-winning helmer of 1999’s highly praised “Boys Don’t Cry”, Kimberly Peirce. And, don’t forget that 2014 will be the 40th anniversary of the publication of the original “Carrie” novel—the first book published from the now prolific and world-renowned author, Stephen King! I was quite impressed with the off-Broadway “Carrie” musical revival when I saw it in early March. I lauded its spirit, emotion and energy within a review on this very blog. That production was given a grade of 6 on my 1 thru 10 theatre scale. I strongly considered a 7. And for full disclosure’s sake, I awarded the 1988 version a 3. Well, this cast recording outdoes the number given to both. This highly listenable and hauntingly sung show, despite some occasional sub-par lyrics, is equal parts profound and intoxicating. So, this premiere recording rates a solid 8