‘Carrie the Musical’ thrills audience

Oakland University Theatre wrapped up its final showings of “Carrie the Musical” this past weekend in the Varner Studio Theatre.

This was OU’s first horror musical production, according to director Fred Love, who has been directing and teaching at OU since 2005. It was also a Michigan premiere for this adaptation of the Broadway musical.


Setting the stage

Walking through the double doors of the theatre was like walking into a creepy alternative universe.

A large canopy-like structure resembling a huge spider web roofed the audience. Neon blue and green lighting-effects casted eerie shadows on the desolate stage.

At the Oct. 17 showing, the doors slammed shut at 8 p.m., sending an echo throughout the theatre. The lights then shut off and booms of thunder nearly shook the seats.

The musical is an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel “Carrie.” The play follows the life of Carrie White, played by Bianca Keitel, who is a lonely teenage girl struggling between nonstop bullying at school and her fanatically religious mother at home.

The mega-bitch of the play is Chris Hargensen, played aggravatingly well by Lindsay Maron. She is the drinking, cussing ringleader of the popular crowd whose main objective is to torment Carrie.

Carrie has nowhere to turn. Her mother, Margaret, played by Jacqueline Gubow, shames Carrie for becoming a woman and regards it as mortal sin. Gubow froze the audience with her shrill screams and abusive thrashings on Carrie, using the Holy Bible.

Under the weight of constant fear and pressure, Carrie learns she has telekinetic powers. Throughout the play, she moves objects around the stage with her power and engulfs her mother’s Bible in flames.

One of the popular girls, Sue Snell, played by Melissa Perry, regrets bullying Carrie. In an attempt to make things right, she asks her boyfriend, Tommy, to invite Carrie to prom — ignorant to the horrific events that will take place.


Switching things up

After Love read the play, he got the inspiration to set the musical in a psych ward.

“At the opening of the musical, the audience discovers that Sue has been placed in this asylum, as she is the only survivor of the destruction being held not only for observation, but also for interrogation,” Love said.

This play was told through Sue’s eyes, as she recounted the events leading up to the prom.

Perry captured what it is like to be in high school, stuck between doing the right thing and fitting in. The audience can feel her shame in her emotional number “Once You See.”

The stage transforms into a girl’s locker room, school hallways, Carrie’s home and the gym where a bloody prom night ends in death and disaster.


A role unlike any other

Bianca Keitel, a junior musical theater major, performed the intricate role of Carrie.

“This is my first lead role in a musical, and it’s the best experience I’ve ever had in my life,” Keitel said.

Keitel, who has performed several roles, including an understudy in PoliceDeafNearFar and D.A Joyce Riley, Greek Chorus and a Harvard Student in Legally Blonde, said playing Carrie was a totally new experience.

“Honestly I’ve been in films before where I had a supporting character but Carrie White is by far my favorite character I’ve ever played,” Keitel said.

Keitel portrayed Carrie’s plight intensely, forcing the audience to understand her complicated pain.

Love also wanted the audience to feel challenged, entertained, horrified and scared. But he hoped they understood the message within the musical about how dangerous bullying can be.

“Remember, there is always another Carrie somewhere out there waiting to unleash her powers of destruction. Be kind to one another and respect those (who) are different from us,” Love said.