Carrie: The Musical

Book by Lawrence D. Cohen
Lyrics by Dean Pitchford
Music by Michael Gore.

Adapted from Stephen King’s novel Carrie, it focuses on an awkward teenage girl with telekinetic powers whose lonely life is dominated by an oppressive religious fanatic mother.

Stratford Upon Avon (Feb 13 1988 – March 1988)

The show was produced by Friedrich Kurz and the Royal Shakespeare Company and had its first four-week run beginning on February 13, 1988 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, where it received mixed reviews. Directed by Terry Hands and choreographed by Debbie Allen, the cast included Broadway veteran and cabaret singer Barbara Cook, Charlotte d’Amboise, Gene Anthony Ray, Darlene Love, and Linzi Hateley, in her stage debut, as Carrie.

The production was plagued with script and technical problems. The crew was unable to douse Hateley with fake blood without causing her microphone to malfunction. Rewrites continued following each show, and the program cited a song, “Once I Loved a Boy,” which had been rewritten and retitled “When There’s No One” prior to the first performance. Barbara Cook resigned when she was nearly decapitated by an elaborate set piece on opening night, but she agreed to stay on until a replacement could be cast, which turned out to be the remainder of the show’s Stratford run. A musical section of the “Locker Room Scene” (which has come to be known as “Her Mother Should Have Told Her”) was removed after the initial few performances, and another song, “White Star,” was later excised.

Broadway: Virginia Theatre (April 28, 1988)

The show transferred to Broadway at an expense of $8 million (at the time an exorbitant amount). Hateley (who ultimately won a Theatre World Award) and other members of the UK cast remained with the show, but Cook was replaced by Betty Buckley (who had played the teacher Miss Collins in the 1976 film version).

The show started previews on April 28, 1988 at the Virginia Theatre. After the final song, boos were heard mixed in with applause. Ken Mandelbaum is quoted by Wollman, MacDermot, and Trask: “Ken Mandelbaum writes of an audience divided during early previews, the curtain calls of which were greeted with a raucous mix of cheers and boos. However, in an instant, when Linzi Hateley and Betty Buckley rose to take their bows, the entire theatre turned to a standing ovation. According to the New York Times, “The show had received standing ovations at some previews, as well as on opening night…” The show officially opened on May 12, 1988. Hampered by scathing reviews, and despite the fact that the theatre was sold out every night, the financial backers pulled their money out of the show, and it closed on May 15, 1988 after only 16 previews and 5 performances, guaranteeing its place in theatre history as one of the most expensive disasters of all time. According to The New York Times, the “more-than-$7 million show…was the most expensive quick flop in Broadway history.”

Off Broadway: MCC Theatre (2012)

More information

See the Wikipedia page