It was almost twenty-five years ago when the adaptation of Stephen King’s breakthrough novel, “Carrie” landed on the Broadway stage and turned it to a scene of blood and gore. After only five performances, each one met with reviews and criticisms that were just as ghastly, it was pulled and many who worked on the project vowed to never touch it again. Those same folks are eating their words now, as they’ve been actively involved in reworking it for the stage, and “Carrie” now has an off-Broadway opening date of March 1. So what’s different this time around?
Back then in 1988 it was composer Michael Gore, lyricist Dean Pitchford, and screenplay writer Lawrence D. Cohen who wrote the original version met for Broadway. It was something they were proud of, until it fell into the hands of Terry Hands, who completely reworked it and took out major pieces of dialogue. After seeing what their work had been turned into, the three writers needed to leave the theater and wait in the lobby until it was over. It was then that it came to Broadway for its very short stint.
The core of original writers including Gore, Pitchford, and Cohen are still heavily involved in what’s hoped to be a much better showing, but the show does have a new director, and that seems to have made all the difference. That director is Stafford Arima, who was only 19 when he saw “Carrie” in Toronto with his mother. Going to a variety of shows had always stayed with Arima, but it was “Carrie” in particular he wanted to see brought back and given another chance. He started asking the writers in 2008 to consider it, at which they routinely shot him down, until he convinced them — and the rest of the theater world — to give the play another chance.
But Arima’s not the only difference. All the writers involved in this new reworking of the play have also made quite a few revisions, and we imagine many of those are replacing what was taken out of it for the first round. Check it out for yourself and see if this adaptation fares any better than the first; it’s playing off Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre beginning March 1.