Carrie – Southwark Playhouse

Kim Criswell as Margaret and Evelyn Hoskins as Carrie in CARRIE - THE MUSICAL. Photo Credit Claire Bilyard (2)Since Carrie – the musical announced it would be making its London premiere at the Southwark Playhouse in 2015 I have been obsessing about seeing this show. And last night, I finally did and it was bloody fantastic!

This cult musical started life in Stratford Upon Avon in 1988 before officially opening on Broadway in April of that year where it ran for just five performances before investors pulled out due to bad reviews and the show closed. A slightly more successful Off-Broadway production was staged in 2012 and now, finally, it has come to London for its premiere.

Based on the Stephen King horror book, Carrie tells the story of a young girl, tormented by her peers at school for being different. When prom comes around and Carrie gets invited, she finally feels like she has been accepted into school society. Sadly, things don’t go quite as well as planned and Carrie sets out to get revenge on the people who have tormented her.

Evelyn Hoskins looks perfect as small, innocent Carrie White. She has hugely endearing eyes and a huge voice which fills the Southwark Playhouse. Kim Criswell plays Carrie’s jesus-freak mother Margaret so well that it made me decide it could be one of the best roles for a woman to play in a musical. She gets all the best songs and even gets to do a bit of flying! Its like Elphaba without the paint-job. Kim gave an awe-inspiring performance that I could watch over and over again.

Carrie is a big ensemble piece, unsurprising as it was written by the same people who wrote Fame the Musical. The young cast have oodles of energy and bounce around the stage as the cool kids at school would. Gabriella Williams (Chris), Sarah McNicholas (Sue) and Greg Miller-Burns (Tommy) give great performances, as do the rest of the cast. Jodie Jacobs plays teacher Miss Gardner with authority and understanding for the situation Carrie is going through.

Special effects by Jeremy Chernick are good, although lose some of their mysteriousness because the show is performed in the round where some of the tricks can be seen depending on where you are sitting. I would love to see this show go on to do well in the West End on a regular stage but I don’t think the space of the Southwark Playhouse was the perfect choice for this show.

I have been hooked on the music from Carrie for years since the 2012 off-broadway production released a CD of the show for the first time. Songs like Eve Was Weak, The World According To Chris, Unsuspecting Hearts and A Night We’ll Never Forget are utterly incredible and the brilliance of the music makes it even more confusing as to why this show never had a successful run. Hopefully that will all change with this new production.

Reviewed by West End Wilma

Photo: Claire Bilyard

Carrie is playing at the Southwark Playhouse until 30 May 2015. Click here for tickets