slice of life

‘Carrie: The Musical’ delivers positive message despite dark themes

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The show's director Max Murphy said that despite the negative elements of "Carrie," it leaves a positive message.

WHAT Theatre is gearing up to present “Carrie: The Musical,” the cult adaption of Stephen King’s 1974 novel “Carrie,” in Schine Underground Friday and Saturday.

“Carrie” focuses on a lonely teenage girl whose life is characterized by her excessively religious mother and relentlessly taunting classmates. After being humiliated on prom night, Carrie wreaks havoc on everyone who has wronged her.

WHAT Theatre’s production of the musical is directed by junior advertising major Max Murphy, who lists “Carrie” as his all-time favorite musical.

“It’s the campiest musical for the darkest topic,” he said.

It may be easy to assume that something as dark as “Carrie” wouldn’t work very well for something as upbeat as a musical, but Murphy disagrees. The soundtrack for the show sounds like pop music, despite the intense story being told.

“The music isn’t upbeat to the degree of something like ‘Hairspray’ when the whole cast is bopping on stage,” Murphy said. “But rather has a different, more intense energy that really fits the vibe of Carrie.”

Laurie Beth Koller, a junior communications and rhetorical studies and youth and family development studies double major, plays the role of mean girl Chris Hargensen. She’s had a passion for music and theater from a young age.

“I struggled with reading when I was younger and my 5th grade teacher told my mom, ‘Once she finds something she wants to read, she’ll read.’ And that thing? A script,” she said.

Since then, Koller has developed quite the passion for theater. She’s done at least one show a year at Syracuse University, at one point working on four simultaneously.

The cast and crew of the musical have rehearsed 4-5 days a week for 2 hours at a time. Murphy said they have put a lot of hard work into the show, and can’t wait to see it come to life. He described the experience of watching the cast perfect the opening musical number, “In,” with his assistant director, CJ Santosuosso.

“My assistant director and I were jumping around like lunatics because we finally saw everyone bringing the show to life in such an incredible way,” he said. “It really sparked something within the cast that they have taken ever since.”

Despite negative themes typical of Stephen King’s work, the collective takeaway from the cast and crew members is good natured and positive, something that Murphy says needs to be spread around the world. For him, the SU campus isn’t a bad place to start.

He said the opportunity to spread this positive message was his main reason for directing the show.

“It costs absolutely nothing to smile at someone, not talk behind someone’s back, or reach out to someone in trouble,” Murphy said. “The fact that I had the opportunity to work with incredible humans to spread this to all who see it was an opportunity I couldn’t give up.”

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