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History of Musical Theater

Dr. Tim Baxter-Ferguson

September 28, 2017

Reader Log Outline


Musical Title: Carrie

Music: Michael Gore

Lyrics: Dean Pitchford

Book: Lawrence D. Cohen

Performance History:

Carrie started its tryouts produced by The Royal Shakespeare Company and starred

Barbara Cook, Charlotte dAmboise and Linzi Hately. The show started previews on Broadway

on April 28, 1988. It flopped hugely and closed after 16 previews and five performances, losing

a lot of money. It was revived in 2012 with a lot of new songs and a reworked script.

Critical Reception:
The show was critically panned. Frank Rich of the New York Times said: Those who

have the time and money to waste on only one Anglo-American musical wreck on Broadway this

year might well choose ''Carrie. He added: As the film director Brian DePalma demonstrated

in his screen adaptation, ''Carrie'' can make for scary, funny and sexy pulp entertainment -

provided the thrills, wit and post-pubescent sensuality are as sharp as that knife.The musical

''Carrie'' fails in all these areas.

Memorable Quotes:

Hows your pussy, princess?

This line was very memorable to me because it just screams middle-aged man trying to write

what he thinks a teenager would sound like. It stuck out to me as a shining example of where this

musical fails.


Carrie White is the outcast of the school. One day she gets her period for the first time at 17

years old, in the school shower, and everyone makes fun of her when she doesnt know what a

period is. The teacher makes some of the students apologize to Carrie, but Chris, the biggest of

the bullies, refuses to apologize, so the teacher tells Chris she is suspended from going to prom.

Chris vows revenge. Another of the girls, Sue Snell, feels bad about making fun of Carrie, and

convinces her boyfriend, Tommy, to take her on a pity date to prom. Carrie's mother is crazy,

and forbids Carrie from going to prom, but Carrie goes anyway. Also, Carrie is telekinetic. She

goes to prom, and Chris gets revenge by dumping a bucket of pigs blood on her (or splashing it

on her). Carrie goes crazy and uses her telekinesis to destroy prom. Then, she heckin dies.

Revenge: Revenge is a destructive force in Carrie. Chris wants revenge on Carrie, and when

Chris tries to get it, Carrie gets her own revenge and destroys the town (and kills people).

One either gets bullied or is the bully: In the world of Carrie, the strong devour the weak. Chris

is the strong. Carrie is weak, so Chris preys on her. In the end, Carrie becomes the strong, and

kills everyone. As Chris would say, the world according to Chris is better to bite than get bit.


Carrie deserves its place oin history because it is one of the biggest musical theater flops

of all time. So, why did it fail? It had some of the makings of some of the more successful

musicals before it, but it just flopped, hard.

Carrie, I think, takes itself a bit too seriously, and I think that was its first mistake. THe

show tried to be the next Phantom or Les Mis, but its Carrie the Musical. It cant escape its roots

as a horror book, and I dont believe horror, at least of the supernatural kind, can be done well on


The shows score is generic for the time. Theres not really any particular songs that stick

out upon first listen of Carrie.

In conclusion, I think Carrie deserves its place in history as a flop because of what it is.

Horror musicals just dont work, especially ones that are humorless.

Reader Response:

When I first started listening and reading Carrie the Musical, I hated it. I thought it was

angsty and too far up its own ass. Upon further listening, however, the music started to grow on

me. Sure, its dumb, and it doesnt try to be dumb, but I think that may be why I like it.
I hate all the songs between Carrie and her mother. I think the character of Carries

mother is dumb to begin with, just in concept, so I really dislike her songs, where she starts

prattling off scripture and destroying Carries life. I love the songs that are big group numbers

with the high schoolers. Like, they are just so dumb, and over the top, and they try so hard to be

serious, which automatically makes me like them. They try so hard. The World According to

Chris is a bop. Although I hate how when they sing Chris they make it two syllables to fit two

notes in: Cha-ris. This, however, does not detract from how much of a bop that song is.

I think shows, or just media in general, that try to portray the high school experience,

almost never get it right. Why are the bullies always so extreme in their bullying, and usually for

no good reason? I like it only in certain stories. Heathers doesnt bother me, because its comedic

to begin with. Carrie just rubs me the wrong way in that regard. My high school experience was

never like that, and I was the overweight theater nerd. No one really acts the way these bullies

act, and I can never get past that. I mean, Im sure there are these types of cruel people out there,

but it seems to me that bullies that are as extreme as the ones in Carrie are not in the norm, and I

cant relate to that.

I think that if one is transferring a story to a new medium, such as book/movie to musical,

it needs to do something new. Carrie is such a well-known story, so why would audiences want

to sit through Carrie again, with all its same themes of bullying, but this time with song and

dance. I think Carrie would have been better if they tried to say something new with the story of

Carrie, and not rehash the same thing again, but as a musical.

This show wanted to be like Phantom and Les Mis, and it failed in every way to do that.
All that being said, however, if I ever got the chance to be in Carrie the Musical, I would

jump at the chance. This show, I feel, would be so fun to be a part of.