PC: Matthew Herman, Ella Lizarraga, Rico Saturn Photography, NE Photography
Written by Alina Mae Wilson
“For God’s Sake, Someone Give Jordan Hicks Her Own Album”
These were the words uttered by a fellow theatergoer seated near me in the audience as Jordan Hicks finished the song “When There’s No One.” Hicks, who plays one of the primary antagonists in Cypress College’s production of Carrie the Musical, is not the only reason to see this show, but she is undoubtedly a great one. The musical, based on Stephen King’s gothic horror novel about an emotionally tortured and ostracized teenager discovering latent superpowers and going forth to wreak vengeance on her abusers, has recently become something of a cult tradition to perform around Halloween.
You won’t hear any complaints from me. It has a solid score and emotionally charged material. While Carrie the Musical runs the risk of one day being overdone, I think we can consider the pairing of this classic story with some heartrending tunes a match made in musical hell. In other words, you should watch this show, specifically, the one currently playing at Cypress College.
Perhaps not as greatly remembered as some of King’s other works (those involving a certain sewer-residing clown, for instance), Carrie is pretty well known. Most people have heard of it, but not everyone knows exactly who the titular character is and how she came to be. Carrie is a high school senior who yearns for acceptance from those around her. She is shunned and abused at every turn. When Carrie discovers she harbors some atypical abilities, we watch as her pain grows—until her suffering is widespread throughout the town.
Most of the cast members do a decent job of portraying their characters. While a few actors certainly appear to be more “in the moment” or “authentic” than others, the story itself rests heavily on the emotional power of its leads: Carrie (played by Naomi Groleau) and her mother Margaret (played by Jordan Hicks). This is fortunate because Groleau and Hicks are fantastic in these roles. When I tell you I screamed at the curtain call, I mean I went hoarse expressing my appreciation and admiration for these performers. Hicks’ Margaret is an excellent combination between the 1976 Carrie film (okay, the curly hair also helps) and the borderline almost-sort-of-kind-of-when-in-the-right-mood-loving mother the musical revival made her out to be. Perfectly reminiscent of the 70s appearance aside, Hicks is just good. Her voice is beautiful while also showing the character’s fanatical lunacy.
Carrie is played by Naomi Groleau. Let me use this opportunity to say this: I have seen Carrie the Musical multiple times in various locations, and Naomi Goleau is the best Carrie I have ever seen. Groleau’s portrayal of Carrie’s loneliness, anxiety, fragility, and eventual strength are all visible. Her voice is so good I wish I had a recording of her singing the title song (actually, I wish I had a recording of the whole cast singing this score). Her pain and suffering as a person who is utterly and completely alone in every meaningful sense cuts to the core of human decency and makes me wish there was some way I could reassure this poor child and solve all her problems. This is a lead you can root for.
When sharing the stage, Groleau and Hicks are what I would consider a jaw-dropping force of emotion. I don’t know how their chemistry as mother and daughter is so spot-on. Maybe they are reincarnated souls who found each other so they could tell stories of their past loves through their talent. Either way, there is a real possibility I will go back for a second viewing so I can watch these two duet again.
The music in this show alternates between being fun and pop-ish to being dramatic and heartrending. Personally, I appreciate the alternating. First, you hear a song that makes you want to hug a fellow traumatized member of the human race; then you hear a song that makes you want to dance and vibe — also with a fellow traumatized member of the human race. While any production of Carrie worth its salt should have you sympathizing with the lead, it should also have you bouncing around a bit.
While certainly not flawless (there were some sound issues now and again, and the moving set pieces were sometimes a bit distracting), the pros vastly outweighed the cons. The entire cast sang well; the story was beautifully expressed, and the leads took my breath away.
Story8.5Acting9Set & Design7.8Costumes8Entertainment9
What people say...
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Impressive show and cast
October 12, 2023, 9:36 pm
Agree to Disagree
October 12, 2023, 4:11 am
So Much Emotion and Fun
October 12, 2023, 4:10 am
October 12, 2023, 2:17 am
Great Show! OCR Recommended! Oct 6-15,2023.