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Arts & Culture

OnStage Playhouse Brings 'Carrie: The Musical' Back To Life

Mary Grace Sumner plays the title character in "Carrie: The Musical" at OnStage Playhouse.
OnStage Playhouse
Mary Grace Sumner plays the title character in "Carrie: The Musical" at OnStage Playhouse.

Show inspired by Stephen King novel and Brian DePalma film

October is the month of Halloween and OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista has a production of "Carrie: The Musical" to fit the season.

Artistic director James P. Darvas has not been scared off by "Carrie: The Musical's" troubled past. Stephen King's book about a high school girl who is bullied and retaliates with telekinetic powers she cannot control grabbed readers and eventually became a film by Brian DePalma and starring Sissy Spacek as Carrie.

But when the musical play debuted on Broadway in May 1988 it only survived 16 previews and five regular performances and became the object of much critical derision. But the play went through a series of revisions and Darvas decided it was worth staging. The play is adapted from the 1978 movie and the original 1974 King horror novel by the film's screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen, lyricist Dean Pitchford and composer Michael Gore.

'Carrie: The Musical' At OnStage Playhouse

At OnStage Playhouse, Mary Grace Sumner plays Carrie, who is not only an outcast at school because she’s “weird” but she's also abused at home by her fanatically religious mother (Wendy Waddell) who tries to “protect” her from the real world.

The small company also had to figure out a way to stage the iconic prom scene with its bucket of blood. Darvas said that they had to experiment with a variety of "recipes" for the blood to find one that looked good, didn't burn the actress' eyes, and would clean out of the costumes. They also had to drill holes in the stage to allow the blood to have a way to run off the stage for easier clean up. But even with that the stage manager has to spend quite a bit of time every night mopping up the blood from the stage and walls.

"Carrie: The Musical" runs through Nov. 3 at OnStage Playhouse (291 Third Avenue, Chula Vista). Tickets are available online or by calling the Box Office at (619) 422- 7787.

Here's an NPR story I did comparing the various interpretations of "Carrie."