Carrie The Musical, based on Stephen King’s novel, is not the uplifting, upbeat musical, that WAAPA is famous for. It’s a commentary on bullying, surviving high school and trying to over come a religious zealot mother. It’s a far cry from this year’s mid year offering of Legally Blonde, but that’s what makes it such a good choice of musical for a graduating class.
Any audience member who witnessed both productions will appreciate the broad range of talent this group of third year musical students have to offer.
Matilda Moran as Carrie’s mother, Margaret White gives a haunting performance as a mother paying for the sins of her past. (A highlight from the performance was Moran’s ability to turn on a spiralling staircase while belting out a powerful number from the show.)
Heather Manley, as the innocent Carrie, transforms from a scared mousey teenager into a force-to-be-reckoned-with with conviction. Moran and Manley are well cast in this production and their love and hatred for each other is communed to the audience.
Morgan Palmer’s Tommy Ross, is played with tenderness and compassion as he struggles to be accepted by his peers, while having empathy for the misfit Carrie.
Jess Philippi as bully leader and main antagonist, Chris Hargensen has a great voice and presence and Tayla Jarrett as Sue Snells, although appearing to suffer from a throat condition at this performance, performed as a true professional and managed to hit the right emotions as her character transformed from bully to remorseful teenager.
The energy of the opening number is electrifying. Choreography by Christabel Ellis, is spot-on, adding to the energy and thrill of the show. The set, by Madeleine Watt is simple yet highly effective. Lighting designed by Amelia Blanco adds to the horror of the piece and at one point, enables the audience to imagine poor Carrie locked in the cellar of her home.
If a performance can move an audience to emotion then it is a success. And it moved me. As the characters navigated the jungle that is both high school and life, the only disappointment of the evening was the number of empty seats in the Geoff Gibbs Theatre.