Anyone knowing the history of the musical Carrie would tell you that anyone putting on a production of it could be called ambitious. I stand by that as I meet Paul Taylor-Mills at a venue in East London where he previews his forthcoming production to myself and others. I may call him ambitious but I also call him aware, intelligent and thoroughly passionate.
Carrie can be known as one of musical theatre’s memorable flops. It originated at the RSC to lukewarm reviews before prematurely transferring to Broadway at the height of the success of Phantom and Les Miserables, hoping to gain the same debut glory. It ran for five performances.
The cast and crew I met express the awareness of pressure they have to make this production a success in comparison to its previous attempts. However, what is expressed even stronger is their love, faith and trust in this newly adapted show. It has been a while since I’ve come across a cast and crew that are, in no doubt, on the same page coming up to their previews and are supportive and truly believe in the work done – in themselves and one another.
Director Gary Lloyd has nothing but faith and praise for his cast and crew and rightly so. The casting for the show is impeccable. Even by only seeing a selection of numbers, I’m aware of the each powerful individual performer within seconds. There is no weak link and the work I saw was great. The cast are a bunch of vocal powerhouses with high-energy and endearing characters.
Evelyn Hoskins is fantastic. She takes the role of Carrie and makes it her own. Her voice is pure and captivating. Her song previewed to us, ‘Carrie’, was the moment when I started believing alongside the producers and cast that they may be on to something very special.
Carrie’s mother is played by Kim Criswell and provides everything you could hope for and more with the character. And together, with Hoskins, they create quite the duo and play off each other greatly.
Another notable mention is Jodie Jacobs, who will be playing Miss Gardner. She plays the role with such ease and you automatically warm to her. I wish I got to see more of her in this preview, but I shall just have to wait for the show’s anticipated opening night.
As this was more of a show-and-tell, the set was not included but with a Q&A after the preview, director Gary Lloyd shared what he could without giving too much away. Anyone knowing the story of Carrie should be aware of the telekinetic and ‘bloody’ appearances the story has. How is that going to be translated on to the stage? We were told that what the production will be attempting, is something very bold and very ambitious. The term ‘special effects’ was flown about quite a bit, but before we got into any further detail, it was cut of. Rightly so, I believe we wouldn’t want anything spoiled for what seems to be very promising.
For those in-the-know and following the musical, you might be happy to know that edits and adaptations to scenes for this new UK version have made the musical better than before, according to its cast and crew. Criswell stated ‘In a world which has now revolved around the internet, bullying has entered the spotlight again in a massive way. And that’s what Carrie is about in ways. Bullying.’ Despite being written in the late 1980s, this musical is still very poignant now and has adapted to suit this time. The messages seem to come off stronger and clearer now, and can approach audiences in new and fresh ways.
In less than two weeks, I shall return to see the Carrie cast and crew on their press night to see the whole completed piece. I am definitely looking forward to it. Even if it was 50% of what I saw today, I think I’d walk out pretty satisfied. They have set the bar high but I have great faith that this show will impress and hopefully be the success it deserves.
By Tomm Ingram
FRIDAY 1 – SATURDAY 30 MAY 2015
SOUTHWARK PLAYHOUSE, The Large
77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD
Press Night: Wednesday 6 May, 7.30pm
Performances: Monday – Saturday 7.30pm, Thursday 2.30pm (except 7 May), Saturdays 3.00pm
Tickets: £18-22 (£12 previews)
Box Office 020 7407 0234 | http://www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk