Flop Friday: Carrie

Carrie is a classic Stephen King novel, movie, and yes musical. Arguably one of Broadways biggest flops to this day losing 8 million in 1988 money. Despite being the biggest flop of its day the musical began to collect a cult following. People were fascinated by the show and the accounts of such peculiarity coming out of the Broadway community.

The show as can be inferred was based on the novel of the same name and written by Michael Gore (Music), Dean Pitchford (Lyrics), and Lawrence D. Cohen (Book). Their musical adaptation follows the original story line closely following the same central character Carrie White. Much like the novel we see Carrie get teased by the other girls at school about not understanding her own period. the incident which eventually leads to Carrie getting pigs blood dumped on her at the prom, and her rampage after the event.

The show began it’s life during a four week run in Stratford-upon-Avon, at the Royal Shakespeare Company on February 13th, 1988. In it’s initial trial the show received mixed reviews. This was due to a host of script and technical issues which plagued the run. There was issues with the pigs blood scene where the blood would short out Carrie’s(portrayed by Linzi Hateley) microphone. A set piece almost decapitated Barbara cook during a performance one night leading to her resigning form the show. It seemed that this show’s looming issues were present from the beginning and never ceased.

The show made an 8 million dollar move to Broadway on April 28th, 1988 where it played at the Virginia Theatre. Much of the original cast made the move as well excluding Ms. Cook who was replaced by Betty Buckley. The show ran for a mere 16 previews and 5 performances before it’s closing. A feat which, at the time, made it the biggest flop ever known to the Great White Way.

Carrie closed it’s first show in the United States to a mixture of boos and applause as written by Ken Mandlebaum. The boos all but stopped however when Linzi Hateley and Betty Buckley rose to take their bows, the entire theatre turned to a standing ovation. The show received scathing reviews especially from Ben Brantley at the New York Times.

The show however had earned it’s spot in theatre history upon it’s closing, and would go on to find it’s way back to multiple stages in the 31 years since it’s inception. Originally the show did not receive a cast recording, but instead there were tapes of several numbers that floated around the theatrical community. A true recording of the show was not created until the 2012 revival of the show off-Broadway.

The story of Carrie the musical is one that will be discussed for years to come, and it’s legacy will live on. If you are interested in learning more about Carrie and other Broadway flops check out Ken Mandelbaum’s book Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops, or be sure to check back next Friday and see our next Flop Friday picks.

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