Department of Music expertly tackles King’s “Carrie”

Geneseo’s Department of Music performed “Carrie: The Musical,” a reincarnation of Stephen King’s classic 1974 novel Carrie

The original novel has been reimagined time and time again, first brought to life as a film in 1976 and later brought to the stage as a musical in 1988. Geneseo’s performance was an adaptation of the 2012 off-Broadway revival written by Lawrence D. Cohen with music by Michael Gore and lyrics by Dean Pitchford. Professor of English and theater Melanie Blood directed and choreographed the production in Wadsworth Auditorium from Jan. 18-Sunday Jan. 22.

The crowd waited in anticipation outside the theater where the show made its Geneseo debut, excited to see how the supernatural aspects of Carrie would materialize on stage. The original novel chronicles Carrie White’s experience being harassed by other students in her high school and describes her telekinetic powers, which she eventually uses to exactrevenge. Audience members were curious about how the more mystical elements of the play would be explored in a theatrical setting.

The traditional stage was transformed into a black box theater. This placed the audience on the same level as the performers and allowed them to view the play from different perspectives. The actors moved and danced through the audience, which engaged them in the performance. The stage was split into two different settings—Carrie’s school at one end and her home at the other—allowing for a seamless transition between Carrie’s tormented life with her peers and her troubled relationship with her religious mother. 

The musical opens with a dark scene of Sue Snell—portrayed by musical theater major junior Jessica Murphy—on prom night, when Carrie—portrayed by psychology major senior Nicole Eras—takes revenge on her classmates. 

From this scene, the show moves into a flashback with the opening musical number “In,” in which students sing about their worries about finding their place in high school. As the characters dance and sing, they also wove through the audience, allowing viewers to get up close and personal with the students’ struggles. 

The show then moves into the number “Carrie,” where Carrie vents about her frustration with the harassment she faces from the other students. Her resentment keeps growing, and by the end of the play she has gained more control over her supernatural powers.

One of the most entertaining aspects of the musical was how Carrie’s telekinetic powers were portrayed through both her interactions with the other performers as well as with the surrounding props. Carrie manipulated the movements of the other students when she became aggravated with their treatment of her. 

In some scenes, Carrie took control of the world around her in an attempt to hone her powers. In an interaction between Carrie and her mother Margaret—played by communication major sophomore Maria Floriano—Carrie uses telekinesis to close the windows of her home in order to assert herself over her mother.

It’s safe to say that Geneseo’s Department of Music knows how to put on an entertaining and difficult show. “Carrie the Musical” was a remarkable and entertaining experience in which the audience was effectively brought into Carrie’s tormented world.