By Tara Bennett
Once upon a time, a group of mean-spirited kids elected the school whipping-girl as prom queen, only to publically humiliate her. But only Carrie White could get the revenge every bullied kid has ever dreamed about.
This horrific coming-of-age story is now Carrie the Musical, and will be bringing buckets of blood to the Reilly Theatre, beginning Wednesday, March 4 and running through March 15.
Based on the acclaimed novel by Stephen King, Carrie the Musical received Broadway treatment in 1988, with the book written by Lawrence D. Cohen, the original screenwriter of the original 1976 Brian De Palma film, with lyrics by Dean Pitchford (Fame, Footloose), and music by Michael Gore. LSU’s adaptation of the classic Stephen King story is directed by Tamara Fisch, a New York-based freelance director.
Taunted by her peers at school and terrorized by her religious zealot mother at home, Carrie the Musical tells the haunting tale of 17-year-old Carrie White. Lonely and tormented, Carrie soon discovers she has shocking, telekinetic powers that she must keep secret. But when a prank at her high school prom goes horribly wrong, everyone finds just how deadly her secret can be.
Carrie the Musical stars Haley Schroeck as Carrie’s zealot mother Margaret White, and Abigail Tatum making her Swine Palace debut as the titular Carrie.
“I think she’s such a great character out of all the characters I’ve played because there’s so much emotion,” said Tatum. “It’s such a challenge to play this character because she goes through such a change. She is very small and meek at first, but over the course of the show she gets stronger and stronger, and I think it’s great to be able to show that.”
Tatum is currently an education major at LSU, who was involved in theatre during her high school years in shows such as Rumors, Guys and Dolls, and played as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. The role of Carrie is a challenging first for Tatum.
“We are different in the aspect that I came from a very loving home, and so it’s challenging to go and have to know what it feels like when you’ve never known love,” said Tatum.
“It’s been really fun to work with [Tatum],” said Fisch. “She has a wonderful, pure quality, a kind of naiveté that she brings to the role. I think there are many ways to play Carrie, but spunky and confident is not one of them, and Abby has a sweet shyness that she brings to it that makes you want for things to work out well for Carrie.”
Though Tatum lacks actual telekinetic powers, she still has fun going full force with playing the iconic scream queen.
“I’ve always wanted to act in a scary movie, and now I finally get to,” said Tatum. “I think it’s really fun that I get to kill everyone, then die. I’ve always wanted to die onstage.”
According to Fisch, the musical follows the book and film versions of Carrie very faithfully, though the main difference lies in the portrayal of Margaret White, who is a central figure in regards to Carrie’s torment. The musical shows a person who does in fact love her daughter, rather than the one dimensional demon of the she is known as.
“She’s still pretty evil, but she’s much more complicated,” said Fisch. “She does terrible things and she is deeply misguided, but you have a much greater sense of the love for her daughter.”
And who can forget the moment that made Carrie a household name in horror? Yes, there will be blood.
“I love the blood, it’s one of my favorite parts,” said Tatum. “It just adds so much emotion.”
While Fisch stresses that the blood won’t match the same volumes as seen in the film, fans of the movie will still get to see red.
“It’s not as much in the movie, but it’s a nice amount,” said Tatum. “They’ll have more than enough blood.”
While Carrie is often associated with blood and maiming people at the prom, there is still a powerful message behind her story.
“The story of Carrie, of course is salacious, it’s a great horror story, but it’s also a story about the way we can push people to the breaking point with our cruelty, which is an important thing to talk about all the time,” said Fisch. “And it’s no less relevant and tragic now than it was 40 years ago.”