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5 Vada Stars from Adam Wollerton
The revamped show of Broadway flop Carrie hits London this May at the Southwark Playhouse. Noted as Stephen King’s first published and most famous horror novel, this adaptation for stage by composer Michael Gore, lyricist Dean Pitchford and librettist Lawrence D. Cohen is set to be a thrilling triumph with phenomenal lead Evelyn Hoskins.
After the previous sell-out success of In the Heights and critically acclaimed BatBoy: The Musical, the expectation on Paul Taylor-Mills Ltd was indeed ‘in the heights’. However, under the watchful eye and guiding hand of director and choreographer Gary Lloyd, the cast and production do not disappoint. This heart-stopping horror is transformed into a musical magnificence with a prodigious cast that enhance the music and script with unfathomable talent, passion and character.
Evelyn Hoskins is the perfect Carrie. Her recognisable, introverted physique reflects that of previous versions of Carrie, but she offers an immaculate portrayal of a girl that is both standoffish and at the same time vulnerable, which is newly captivating.
Although Hoskins admits in a recent interview with What’s On Stage that she has a knack for being cast as the ‘weird’ character, there is nothing contrived about her presentation of Carrie. Her beautiful voice captures a realness and vulnerability to the character, and with perfect pitch and flawless sustained notes, Hoskins brings the modern audience a Carrie they can relate to and believe in.
The godly presence throughout the production isn’t the only force to be reckoned with. Kim Criswell, playing Carrie’s ‘Holy’ Mother, is brilliant, and when she and Hoskins are locked in vocal battle their chemistry onstage is a musical equivalent of a clash of the titans.
Their harmonies, vocal power and range are jaw-droppingly inspirational, and have the audience leaning back in their seats in consolidated appreciation. Again, a character that requires incessant sincerity handling the introverted conflict of a mother’s care for her child and the belief in her faith, Kriswell throws the audience from frustration to empathy and even sympathy with her performance.
It’s no wonder these two musical maidens are up for Best Female at the OffWestEnd.Com awards. Although the cast is wholly fantastic, and huge credit must go to those from Arts Ed making their professional debut, I have to make one final special mention for Sarah McNicholas (playing Sue Snell) and Jodie Jacobs (Mrs Gardner) who play in harmony alongside troubled Carrie White.
Their character work and skill is strong throughout – particularly McNicholas, who flicks constantly between present and past tense. This adds another dimension that would be tricky to interpret as an audience member, but with the assistance of great direction and lighting, this is established with ease.
The production itself is designed optimally to make Southwark Playhouse the home for Carrie. Scene changes are achieved effortlessly and staged in a minimalist manner but have a great effect, and the enactment of Carrie’s telekinetic powers is simple, effective, and not overdone, which is key in keeping this play true to its renown melodramatic nature whilst within the boundary of sincerity.
The only thing that would be deemed horrific about this production is if it appears in the sentence, ‘I didn’t get to see Carrie at Southwark Playhouse’ after this month. There should be no telekinesis needed to get your bum on a seat between now and 31 May!
Tickets are available at southwarkplayhouse.co.uk.