Carrie the Musical – a night you’ll never forget (now through Oct 26)

carrie 1
For this review, Seattle Pockets welcomes guest reviewer Jessie Portlock!
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first sat down to see “Carrie the musical” at The Moore Theatre (co-produced with Balagan Theatre) but as an avid lover of horror and musical theatre I was excited to see the melodic terror that was to come. “Would it be like a campy satire?” I thought. “Something like the high school Glee kids covered in blood?” (Which I probably still would have liked) No. The 2012 Off-Broadway revision of the story and music was more realistic and haunting. Think Sweeney Todd and Spring Awakening wrapped up into what is the story of a modern day witch trial. Balagan Theatre has picked an incredible piece for its perfectly timed October musical.
The story of Carrie was first told by Stephen King in 1974. It was his first published novel and it is still one of the most frequently banned books in US schools. In 1976 the cult classic horror film was released with Sissy Spacek playing the title character, Carrie White. Balagan’s Keaton Whittaker is so far my favorite Carrie. Whittaker really embodies that little weirdo inside of all of us and reminds us how we all felt bullied in some way or another. By the end of her first song I was TEAM CARRIE, and by the end of the musical I was ready for her to take out the masses. Not only does she have an amazing voice but her comedic timing is to be applauded. Keaton Whittaker makes you feel, think, laugh and before you know it – you are rooting for the monster. Playing Carrie’s creepy crazy over zealous religious mother is the lovely and talented, Alice Ripley. She was last seen on the Seattle stage at the 5th Avenue Theatre’s Next to Normal where she reprised her original Tony Award winning role as Diana Goodman, a crazy schizophrenic mother. I was interested to see how these two mothers would compare. Ripley reaches a whole new level of crazy in this performance. She is Scary, with a capital S. Her quality of voice is beautiful and gave me goose bumps in the second act … I’m not gonna lie, there was a tear as well in the end.
Photo by Jeff Carpenter

Photo by Jeff Carpenter

The cast did an excellent job bringing the story into the modern time. The ensemble was solid, dance numbers and musicality were spot on. Shout out to Erin Herrick, the ensemble member who stole the spotlight every moment as vapid Norma. The supporting characters were incredibly strong with the exception of the narration of the piece. Exceptional performances were given by Tessa Archer who plays Chris Hargensen, Carrie’s main source of abuse (Tessa, we are sure you are a nice person deep down. Great job!) and Kendra Kassebaum who plays Miss Gardner, the gym teacher with the heart of gold.
I really wanted more blood, but that’s me. All in all, Balagan Theatre’s Carrie the musical is a great October experience. I urge you to see this particular cast as well. Watching Alice Ripley and Keaton Whittaker play mother and daughter is electric.  If you like horror, musicals, or musical horror it will be a night you’ll never forget.
-Jessie Portlock, guest reviewer, will be the Festival Director for Northwest Horrorfest 2014. Read more about Jessie on her site: http://gypsyjessiepresents.com/

Fun fact: Years ago, Keridwyn was in charge of a kid casting event at Crossroads Mall when working at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Her job was to discover the best of the children talent that came out to the mall audition. Keaton Whittaker was the one who rose above the rest with her talent and stage presence, so Keridwyn introduced her to the casting team at The 5th Avenue Theatre! Since then, Keaton has performed at The 5th Avenue Theatre and on and off Broadway shows such as Shrek The Musical and A Little Night Music. She has always been talented, but it’s been amazing to follow her career as she’s become a professional actress! 

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