The Regals Musical Society: Carrie - Review by Jeffrey Victorino
As a high school teacher, I see every day how interactions between teenagers can be quite confronting. When people don’t understand what’s happening, want to branch out of the ordinary, or even want to express their true selves, peers tend to taunt and tease the unknown. This was clearly explored in The Regals Musical Society’s production of Carrie. Despite some lingering fog haze throughout and some irregularities in the mics and sound, the telling of its story and message is crystal clear: just be nice and kind to everyone; you don’t know their story.
Under the direction of Jason Oxenham and the musical direction of Thomas McCorquodale, the cast of Carrie the Musical really gets to display their powerful vocal ability as they portray and tell the stories of their characters. If I am being honest, I’ve never seen the film in its entirety. But I do know of its pop culture/cult horror classic following and reputation. So walking into this show I had no real expectations, but believe me when I say, even if I had any it would have walked over any bar no matter how high I set it.
As a teacher and educator, I see myself in Olivia Bailey’s Miss Gardner, where I want to encourage students to do the right thing and stand up for what’s right. "Unsuspecting Hearts" was beautifully sung as it highlights a teacher's hopeless optimism to want the best for all students. The character of Margaret White (Michele Landsdown) displays a mother's love for her daughter even if that does go even beyond "normal" mother daughter relationships. "Evening Prayers" portrays both an eerie calm as mother soothes daughter and also the feeling of a warm blanketed hug as she reassures her daughter's protection from the big bad world. Landsdown played her role as an overprotective yet comforting parent so well.
If ever there was a "poster boy" for a good hearted golden boy, then it would be Michael Kilbane’s Tommy Ross. Kilbane played his character so well that it’s not hard to fathom why he’s the popular guy with the girlfriend and the wide eyed optimism of seeing the best in people. His vocal performances of "Dreamer in Disguise" and his duet "You Shine" really accentuated his strong vocal abilities and his ability to portray his character through his song.
The story of Carrie comes from the mind of Stephen King and so it is going to be dark and horrific, so the ensemble does a great job of adding light and shade. Both open songs in Act 1 ("In") and Act 2 ("You Shine"), added both humour and vocals to mark very impactful and impressive starts to each act. The blending of voices and the mannerisms of the ensemble were worthy of my giggles and goosebumps. Always with strong starts.
Now, let's talk about the two standout performances that truly stole the show
If you ever wanted to see a tormented person due to past wrongdoing who just wants to make everything right, it would be the character of Sue Snell. Hannah Fletcher showed off her acting chops as she portrayed her character. Audiences feel her immense sense of remorse as she plays her character with so much emotion. And to top it off, that voice control, that confidence you can’t help but be drawn in. All Fletcher-involved songs were so captivating: "Once You See", "You Shine," wow!
I have nothing but praise for Ebony Cooper. Playing this production’s titular character, Carrie, I was just in absolute awe of her. Besides being an actor and vocalist, a gymnast should be added to her resume; her ability to be flexible in her portrayal was beyond words. From shy and timid to assertive and angry, from uncertainty to strength and power, these are just some descriptions of the flexibility and range that Cooper was able to achieve with not only her acting but also her vocals—the range. I was already hooked from the opening vocal bars of "Carrie". She is definitely a powerhouse.
In case you had not noticed, one of the most impressive aspects of The Regals Musical Society’s production of Carrie the Musical was the quality of the vocals. Every single voice was amazing. I do not say this lightly, every note was hit perfectly and was just so enjoyable.
If I had known how hard I’d be hit by the quality of this show, the power singers and emotional journey that The Regals Musical Society’s production of Carrie the Musical would take me on, then I would’ve asked for more buckets of blood to be dropped on me for repeated hits. I give this production 5 buckets of blood ruining my first prom out of 5
Photography by Grant Leslie