Out of the Box Gets Bloody with ‘Carrie’ Musical

Julia Kupiec as Carrie White in the musical, "Carrie." Peter Bertling photo
Julia Kupiec as Carrie White in the musical, “Carrie.”
Peter Bertling photo

While a new version of the blood-soaked prom queen, “Carrie” blows up the box office this Halloween season, Out of the Box Theatre Company has brought their own production of Stephen King’s classic horror tale to the stage. Yet, “Carrie: The Musical” is not new. Instead, it’s a story of growing pains.

A dozen years after Brian De Palma’s film, the Royal Shakespeare Company workshopped a musical version, but it was beset by tech problems, and the 1988 Broadway production closed after five performances. It was the definition of a flop. Or so everyone thought. Remade as an off-Broadway musical without the special effects and with fewer characters, the revivals began to happen, first illegally, with companies performing without the rights. Then a proper, 2012 revival occurred with new songs from the writers. “Carrie” had risen from the grave.

Fortunately, Samantha Eve and her Out of the Box company loves blood on the stage, and enthusiastically splattered it two years ago with their “Evil Dead” musical. So here they are again, dabbling in the red.

“We’ve gone through so much fake blood,” Ms. Eve says. “Every show, we try something new, and I really believe we’ve got it right this time.”

She’s referring not to the musical, but Perma-blood, a lovely, fake plasma that washes off prom dresses easily.

“Carrie” is a story about a bullied girl, “who is really powerless, but finds her own strength, which then overpowers her,” says Ms. Eve. The music covers “so much ground,” she continues. “It’s not really a rock musical, it’s not a traditional musical. It goes all over the map. There are poppy songs that the teenagers sing, and then there are powerful, edge-of-your seat operettas.”

When Out of the Box sent out its casting call, it was overwhelmed with the responses and also with the young talent who came. Ms. Eve expected college-age adults, but found actual high schoolers ready to take on the roles. She jumped at the chance to cast age-appropriate actors.

“They bring a lot of genuine teenage emotion to their portrayals,” she says.

Carrie is played by Julia Kupiec, who’s almost 17. She’s been in school productions and a short film that won SBIFF’s student shorts competition. Deborah Bertling, an Out of the Box vet, plays Carrie’s fundamentalist mother, Margaret White.

“Her voice is beautiful, powerful, and dramatic,” Ms. Eve says. “I sometimes just find myself in rehearsals sitting there and listening to her sing.”

Of course, “Carrie” wouldn’t be Carrie without the buckets of blood coming near the end and the wanton destruction. Though Ms. Eve knew going in that Center Stage was not going to allow their floor to turn into an abattoir, she hints that they’ve solved the problem in an interesting way, along with some levitation and some other magic tricks. We’ll just have to wait and watch.

‘Carrie: The Musical’
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, 2 p.m Sundays, through Nov. 17
Where: Center Stage Theater, Paseo Nuevo
Cost: $25/$15
Information: 963-0408, www.centerstagetheater.org, www.outoftheboxtheatre.org

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