Review: Carrie the Musical (updated)

I only know Carrie from its iconic prom bloodbath scene so when Jao told me had tickets to the musical, I knew I was in for a treat. Here was a material that has made it to pop culture history, and finally, I was going to learn about it.

For someone my age (ha!), it was initially hard to get past the subject: here’s a bunch of high schoolers whose quest in life was to “get in.” Yawn. Millenials. Screw you. And then there’s Carrie, the outsider. The underdog. The cinderella. In another retelling. The stereotype that will never die. The cliché that goes on and on and on.

The musical really begins when you meet Carrie’s overbearing and Christian fundamentalist mother, played by Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo in this production. She provides such gravitas that the Glee-like atmosphere is lifted (thankfully) and the play takes on a very dark undertone–and here, you realize, Carrie is first and foremost a Stephen King novel after all. (How apt that in the latest Carrie film version, the role is played by Julianne Moore, she who can also do no wrong.)

Together with Carrie, who is played with perfect vulnerability and naïveté by Kayla Rivera, the mother and daughter duo lends serious weight to the issues at hand: fanatical religion and bullying.

Still, the characters are hardly black and white. In The World According to Chris, the bully explains how her father raised her:

Better to whip than get whipped

Even if somebody bleeds
Please
Nobody dies from a scar
And that’s the way things are

The mother, for all her praises to God and physical and emotional abuses to her daughter, is also coming from her own source of pain. And even if Carrie rejects her mother’s hypotheses on life, in the end, Mrs. White is proven right. It’s scary in its complexity: like cancer, acts of unkindness metastasize and affect people–and their generations–in exponential ways. (Life lesson: always be kind.)

With such heavy themes, it was no wonder that laughs were hard to come by. (Though I appreciate the bromance jokes, however fleeting–most of the audience members barely caught them.) Markki Stroem, whom I know nothing about outside the realm of cuteness, was a revelation. His voice was celestial and in Dreamer in Disguise, it was his beautiful voice that made me forget I was inside the theater; I found myself deeply absorbed in his song and in my own thoughts. It was a moment for me as it was for Carrie.

Carrie the Musical runs until October 6, 2013 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati. For tickets, contact Atlantis Productions at 892-7078 or Ticketworld 891-9999.

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