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Review: Mask and Dagger’s “Carrie: The Musical”

The Broadway adaption of Stephen King’s novel “Carrie” was considered one of “Broadway’s biggest flops” when first performed in the 1980s as written by Dean Pitchford, Michael Gore and Lawrence Cohen. The reworked version, however, which premiered in 2012, was a hit when performed at UNH last weekend. The show was even sold out on Saturday evening’s performance, the last one of the weekend.

Mask & Dagger, the UNH equivalent of “drama club,” put on this show at the request of club president, Brooke Snow, a UNH senior.

“I decided to propose this show to Mask and Dagger, because I knew it would be a challenging piece for the actors at UNH. I also knew that it was a great fit for the organization. I’ve wanted to direct this show for a couple years now, and it was the perfect opportunity to do so, ” Snow said.

Phone and camera use was permitted during the performance under the condition that flash was turned off. Audience members were encouraged to tweet to @carrieUNH or #carrieUNH with comments. “We made a twitter @carrieUNH. All of the cast members had access to this account and would tweet at their characters,” Snow said.

The show included a slew of vulgar language, as is appropriate for a college-aged audience and a strong message about the consequences of bullying and both physical and mental abuse, while following the original storyline of King’s novel. The choreography, while sometimes involving synchronization, was intense and extremely precise.

Director Snow said that the Hennessey Theatre was chosen for this performance because, “The Hennessy is very intimate, and this show works best when in a smaller setting.” The set was simple, but effective.

The vocals were spectacular overall.

Sophomore Liam Tanner said, “The harmonies were good…The first time the mom was telling Carrie her story to convince her not to go to the dance was very powerful. That scene really sticks out to me.” Indeed, most of the scenes between Margaret White played by Rachel Noland and Carrie White played by Sam Trottier involved beautiful harmonies.

Sometimes it was difficult to hear the vocals of Molly McKay, who played Chris, during the song “The World According to Chris” when the ensemble was also singing.

For freshman Jenn Conyers, “I heard the songs before I saw the show, so my favorite is probably ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.’”

The song, “Why Not Me”, is a strong portrayal of Carrie’s blossoming self-confidence. Trottier really brought out that transformation of her character in her performance.  This is the moment where Carrie truly starts to believe that she could belong.

Effects for this show were impressive, including the use of flashlights in the dark room to make the group seem more numerous.

Snow said, “We had a very large production team. There were about 15 people working on the technical elements of the show.”

Tanner said, “I love the strobe light so much because it added such a quality to the show. It was very eye-catching and it made the movements very articulated in a unique way.”

In fact, the pre-show announcement and program both had warnings about the strobe light. Tanner added, “Another thing that stuck out to me was the blood scene – when they shut off the lights before it happened.”

The audience did not see the blood pouring on to actress Sam Trottier, but could hear it and soon afterwards the lights came back on to show her horrified expression. Snow said that they used Karo syrup and food color to make the blood, which looked relatively real. The strobe light made it actually look real, which was a little terrifying.

According to Tanner, “Teghan’s interaction with the audience was great,” referring to actress Teghan Kelly, who played Sue Snell. He also liked how certain actors were seated in the audience during the show.

Although the student costumes and those of Carrie’s mother had a 80s or 90s look to them, the costumes of the teachers seemed more modern. Carrie’s outfits held a second-hand look to them. However, during certain scenes, the technology used by students was very modern, such as smartphones and high quality headphones.

At the end of the performance, the audience gave the cast a standing ovation, proving the show’s status as a hit.

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