June 19, 2007

Windy City Times Review of Scarrie

Theater: Scarrie—The Musical


Playwright: David Cerda ( book and lyrics ) ( music: David Cerda, Scott Lamberty and Taylor E. Ross )
At: The Theatre Building
Phone: ( 773 ) 327-5252; $25
Runs through: Aug. 7

You can go to your favorite cineplex and see tired recyclings of old TV shows and movies or you can go to the theater and see an old movie used as a jumping off point for truly inspired work. Case in point: Scarrie—The Musical, a sharp and funny musical “parodage” ( the company calls it a marriage of parody and homage and the hybrid serves as an apt descriptor ) of Brian De Palma’s 1976 film ( itself based on Stephen King’s first novel ) . Scarrie manages to sympathetically embrace the teenage angst the film portrayed so well, when Carrie White, telekinetic teenager, gets pushed to the edge by taunting classmates and her fundamentalist Christian mother. The sympathy is good, because a parody of Carrie walks a dangerous line: it could end up casting the audience in the role of Carrie’s tormentors, being one of the many Carrie’s mother promises “will laugh at you.” But Cerda obviously has a fondness for the film and an even greater fondness and empathy for what it’s like to be a teenage outcast. Cerda also has an unflinching eye for those who seek to torment Carrie, and reflects it back at them with vicious force, akin to Carrie’s ultimate telekinetic wrath. Now that’s funny.

Director Margot Bordelon adroitly never lets the pace flag and the ensemble she has to work with is, for the most part, a dream come true. Ed Jones, as Margaret White, Carrie’s mother, steals the show every time he’s on stage. Imperious and filled with religious zeal, Jones is a worthy successor to the over-the-top performance delivered so well by Piper Laurie in the film ( those with myopia may not even notice a difference between Laurie and Jones ) . As Scarrie, Joey Steakley manages to convey her innocence and outrage perfectly … and even throws in a few touches of his own ( like giving Scarrie a deep, horsy laugh completely at odds with her demure exterior ) that can’t help but make us giggle. Trista Smith brings a Rosie O’Donnell butchness to the Betty Buckley gym teacher role and manages to convey sympathy and inappropriate sexual interest all at once.

The remainder of the cast ( too many to mention ) all acquit themselves admirably, getting the camp style down perfectly, while at the same time proving themselves adept singers and dancers as well ( Bobbie Bagby choreographs ) .

The only bit of casting that didn’t work is the gratuitous use of “guest stars” ( the night of this review the guests were local punk rocker Jinx Titanic and porn star Brad Maguire ) ; these were show-stoppers in the worst sense and added nothing. Minor quibble. The score and lyrics all bubble with pop vibrancy. All in all, this Scarrie is a triumph, a true bit of smart, giddy summer entertainment that will have you giggling to yourself for days afterward … on the train, walking down the street, in the bathroom … until you realize, that, if you don’t stop it, “they’re all gonna laugh at YOU.”

Photo: Rick Aguilar and Michael Miller.

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