The first show that should absolutely transfer to the West End (even for a limited time) is Carrie.
This production ran from 1st May to 30th May at the Southwark Playhouse, making its London debut (having previously run on Broadway and in Stratford-upon-Avon). It is a musical adaptation of the novel by Stephen King, developed by Lawrence Cohen, Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore. This production was directed by Gary Lloyd (Thriller Live, 20th Century Boy) and produced by Paul Taylor-Mills.
The Southwark Playhouse is an excellent venue with easy access from the Underground station Elephant and Castle plus a five minute walk straight down the Newington Causeway. It has two stages – the Little and the Large. The bar and cafe area is very nice and offers reasonably priced drink (not something one can say often when buying drinks in theatres!). The Large is roughly 120 seats. It is unreserved seating and it is well worth queuing up early to ensure a front row seat.
Evelyn Hoskins (Casulty, Holby City, Doctors (TV) The Boy who Fell in the Book (Theatre)) led the cast as Carrie White. Hoskins gave an amazing performance of the troubled 17 year old schoolgirl delivering perfect vocals with ‘Carrie’. Her voice blended in harmony with Kim Criswell (Annie Get Your Gun, Into the Woods, Annie) played Margaret White, Carrie’s mother. ‘And Eve was Weak’ is a standout musical number from the show and both Hoskins and Criswell give outstanding, powerhouse performances.
Jodie Jacobs (Rock of Ages, Sister Act, Footloose) played Miss Gardener, the gym teacher who helps and supports Carrie as she copes with the demands of womanhood. Jacobs and Hoskins sing ‘Unsuspecting Hearts’ together. Wow. An very emotional number and the pair complement each other nicely.
Susan Snell was portrayed by Sarah McNicholas (Evita, Whistle down the Wind), who initially, joining her friends, was mean to Carrie but realised the error of her ways. ‘Once you See’ was performed very well by McNicholas. Greg Miller Burns (Wicked, The Assassins) played Tommy Ross, Snell’s boyfriend, who performed ‘Dreamer in Disguise’ with a lovely tenderness.
Gabriella Williams (professional debut) played Chris Hargensen who performs ‘The World according to Chris’. What a voice! It was announced midway through the run, that Williams would be joining the cast of Mamma Mia as Sophie. As Carrie was her professional debut, this is extremely impressive. Billy Nolan, Chris’s boyfriend, was played by Dex Lee (Scottsboro Boys, In The Heights). Both gave excellent performances and I liked their portrayal of throughly not likeable characters.
Molly McGuire (professional debut), Bobbie Little (professional debut) and Emily McGowan (professional debut) were cast as Norma Watson, Frieda Jason and Helen Shyres Carrie’s classmates who are mean to her. Patrick Sullivan (professional debut), Olly Dobson (professional debut) and Eddie Myles (White Christmas, Grease, West Side Story) played George Dawson, Dale ‘Stokes’ Ullman and Freddy Holt. They were all brilliant in this production performing the choreography with ease and harmonised nicely during the group numbers such as ‘A Night We’ll Never Forget’. All of them are promising young talents to look out for in the future.
The set was impressive for such a small venue with lightbulbs blowing, pieces of set falling, books flying off shelves, people on wires and the bucket of pigs blood. Overall, an outstanding production done with style and should transfer to the West End – pray for its salvation!