By Lory Diaz
Once again, I was lucky enough to be invited to the University of Toronto’s Hart House Theatre to enjoy another one of their 2016-2017 performances!
If you aren’t familiar with the theatre itself, you can read all about it here where I covered the wonderful Much Ado About Nothing production that kicked off their current season. Hart House Theatre is currently presenting Carrie: The Musical from now until February 4, 2017.
Carrie: The Musical is based on the novel by Stephen King, which was released as a movie in 1976. The Hart House Theatre production is directed by Richard Ouzounian, and features a cast of up-and-coming local talent.
For those of you who don’t know the storyline behind Carrie, it’s about a girl who discovers her (dark) inner strength and telekinetic powers after enduring bullying from girls at school. Carrie lives with her fanatically religious mother, Margaret, who prevents her from learning about boys, puberty and love. Carrie’s friend, Sue, who feels guilty about the bullying, arranges for her boyfriend, Tommy, to accompany Carrie to the school prom. Meanwhile, the schoolteacher, Miss Gardner, asks everyone to apologize to Carrie, which upsets one of the meaner girls. Things get a little messy from hereon in.
I was thoroughly impressed with the voices of Brittany Miranda (playing Carrie’s mother, Margaret White), Bevan Buhler (Mr. Stephens, and Rev. Bliss), as well as the lead actor Tiyana Scott (playing Carrie White). Tiyana’s voice is strong and beautiful, especially when she breaks into powerful sections of song. She did a fantastic job!
Joe Pagnan’s set was minimal, consisting of panels that were switched between three different textures. This allowed for the mood of the space to shift without disrupting continuity.
Andrew Cleveland’s costumes conveyed a slight 80s feel, perhaps acknowledging the setting of the original Carrie: The Musical production.
Some slight complications with microphones made for a few difficult moments in sound quality and pitch.
Siobhan Sleath’s dramatic lighting added some intense red to the stage during the big scene for Carrie. This was a smart way to add visual tension in a technically difficult setting such as theater.
Director Richard Ouzounian wrote that “We are all Carrie,” and the Hart House Theatre production really helps the viewer focus on the theme of bullying, since at some point in our lives, we have all had to find our inner strength and stand up for ourselves in one way or another. The core idea behind Carrie: The Musical is very powerful and continues to resonate today.
Now, let’s just be clear that if you aren’t into musicals, this probably isn’t the play for you as it does stay true to its genre. Luckily, the Hart House Theatre season continues with 7 Stories in March, and always has an eclectic lineup for theatre lovers. But if you’re looking for a way to support local talent in Toronto, or find a form of entertainment off the beaten path, then Carrie: The Musical is for you!
Carrie: The Musical at Hart House Theatre runs until February 4, 2017. Tickets are Adults $28, Seniors $17 and Students $15. On Wednesdays, student admission is $12. Book online and pick up tickets at the Hart House Theatre Box Office before the show.