Resurrecting musicals of yesteryear seems to be in vogue these days, with revivals such as Hair and West Side Story blowing newbie Broadway contemporaries out of the water. Just in time for Halloween, Variety is reporting that the legendary 1988 Broadway flop Carrie, a musical whose mere mention sends chills down the backs of fanatics, is being dug up from its grave.
Producers are putting together a 29-hour Equity reading in which they will dust off the ol’ script and rework it for the 21st century. The project is in the hands of Jeffrey Seller (West Side Story and In the Heights) as well as original creators Michael Gore (composer), Dean Pitchford (lyricist), and Lawrence D. Cohen (librettist).
Carrie is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name which tells the story of a lonely, telekinetic teenager who is famously doused in pig’s blood at her senior prom before embracing her inner crazy and killing everyone who wronged her. Brian De Palma‘s 1976 film adaptation was a major success both critically and at the box office.
But can this dark tale translate to The Great White Way? Twenty-one years ago the answer was no. The campy musical, starring Linzi Hately and Betty Buckley, famously opened on Broadway in 1988 to awful reviews and closed after a mere three days. Maybe it was the leotards.
“Those who have the time and money to waste on only one Anglo-American musical wreck on Broadway this year might well choose Carrie, the new Royal Shakespeare Company co-production at the Virginia Theater,” snarked Frank Rich in his May 1988 New York Timesreview of the leotard-infused Gothic drama.
Even more brutal was reviewer Pat Collins. The critic slammed the show in this 1988 episode of NYC TV News:
“Do you believe these are high school kids? They look like gang members from outer space,” says Collins of the head-to-toe lycra jumpsuits worn by the stars. “I kind of kept hoping that Cujo, a mad dog from another Stephen King book, would descend upon the stage and put us all out of our misery.” Yikes.
There are no actual production plans in gear yet, but if Carrie were to return to the stage would you go see it?