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'Carrie' 2.0 

Creepy classic reborn as timely cyber-bullying musical

click to enlarge THERE WILL BE BLOOD Stephen King's high school horror story gets a musical update. - MILLER OBERLIN
  • Miller Oberlin
  • THERE WILL BE BLOOD Stephen King's high school horror story gets a musical update.

Carrie, the troubled teenager from Stephen King's groundbreaking first novel, learns a little too late that people can be cruel, employing her psychic powers at what may be the worst high school prom night in history. Many know Carrie can make heavy objects fly. But who knew she could sing?

In Carrie: The Musical, presented for six performances by the Sonoma Theater Alliance's Teens 'N Training program, Carrie sings—and a lot more.

"The show is really quite beautiful," says education director Libby Oberlin, who also directed the socially conscious horror show. "I didn't know about Carrie: The Musical at first, until the kids in the ensemble chose it. But once I read it, I fell in love with it, because it's edgy and it's raw, and the music is just hauntingly gorgeous."

The shows songs are by Oscar-winning composer Michael Gore (Fame, Terms of Endearment) and lyricist Dean Pitchford (Footloose). But one of the play's strongest features, Oberlin has found, is the way the stage script by Lawrence D. Cohen—who wrote the 1976 screen adaptation for director Brian De Palma—shines a light on the issue of teenage bullying.

"Bullying, sadly, is very prevalent in our society today," says Oberlin. "And the pain and trauma of bullying is beautifully depicted in this show. It's a very important piece, because it's necessary to take a hard look at this topic, which affects so many children. Kids are harming themselves because of bullying and harassment, and Carrie, in the play, ends up suffering a lot, but she also becomes a heroine when she finally claims her power."

For the Sonoma run, the social media references in the script have been juiced up and expanded significantly, with the audience invited to participate in some clever and thought-provoking ways.

"We'll be using phones and texting and social media during the show," says Oberlin. "The actors will be live-tweeting during the performance. They'll be texting and posting. They'll take selfies with the audience as they run down the aisles. It's all meant to show that these progressive communication tools, which do have beneficial characteristics, also have the capacity to be a major detriment to creating meaningful relationships, and to fostering empathy."

So, will there be the iconic bucket of blood?

"Oh, yes," laughs Oberlin. "Wait till you see how we do it. Along with the story and the music and the performances, it's just going to blow you away."

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