Telekinetic Thrills: Musical Carrie takes center at IWU SoTA stage

By Farah Bassyouni Oct 23, 2023

Last week, from Oct. 11-15, IWU’s School of Theatre Arts hosted their production of “Carrie: The Musical” in the Jerome Mirza Theatre across from Ames Library. 

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, “Carrie” follows Carrie White (played by Malea Niesen), a high school senior who is overly sheltered by her religiously fanatic mother, Margaret White (Taylor Glass). 

After Carrie gets her first period during gym class and begins to freak out, thinking that she’s dying, the rest of the girls in the locker room, including Sue Snell (Nikkita Parsons) and Chris Hargensen (Sasha Rosenbaum), mock Carrie while throwing menstrual products at her. 

Sue immediately feels bad for her actions and tries to make things right with Carrie by having her boyfriend Tommy Ross (Mason Hanizeski) ask Carrie to the prom. Carrie, meanwhile, discovers telekinetic powers that eventually help her exact revenge on all of her bullies. 

1. The Performances

For me, the student performances were what truly made the show great. Glass and Niesen’s respective performances as Margaret and Carrie White had me scared for my life, while Allyse McFall’s Miss Gardener had me practically falling out of my seat with laughter. 

2. The Story

My only qualms with “Carrie: The Musical” have nothing to do with the amazing quality of SoTA’s production, but rather how the story of Carrie is affected when done as a stage production. A major roadblock when it comes to adapting a story for the stage is that stage productions generally require fairly practical effects. 

As a fan of the 1976 Film adaptation starring Sissy Spacek, I loved the way it elevated Margaret’s death by having Carrie telekinetically crucify her mother with sharp household objects, making for one of the most iconic death scenes in cinema history. I was a bit disheartened to realize that “Carrie: The Musical” faithfully follows the books’ version of the event, in which Carrie merely uses her powers to stop her mother’s heartbeat. 

3. The Characters

Another issue that I had with the stage adaptation is that I felt like I was watching Sue’s story unfold, rather than Carrie’s. I’m not sure if it was the writing or Parson’s heartwarming performance that made me so sympathetic toward Sue Snell, but I had anticipated feeling more connected to the production’s titular character. 

Overall, SoTA’s production of “Carrie: The Musical” was a blast and I feel bad for those who missed it.

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