Carrie White Burns in Thousand Oaks

Carrie960x277BannerWhen I first heard that YAE was doing Carrie the Musical, I’ll admit that I wasn’t thinking this would be good “musical” material. I hadn’t heard that the classic Stephen King thriller had been given a musical treatment and thought it was odd to use a horror film as material. Maybe this was because Carrie was the first R rated film I’d ever seen and I continue to think it’s super creepy. Well, I went to last night’s performance at the T.O. High School theater and I was pretty much blown away.

First, the casting. Let me tell you that all the main characters were cast perfectly and they all have so much talent. I’ve seen a number of them in other productions, but this play gave them a chance to really let it go. One actress I had not seen before is Julia Lester, who played Carrie White. She was nothing short of spectacular, and not just because of her soaring voice (awesome!). She performed with such an emotional sensitivity that we couldn’t help but feel for her. She really made us feel what it’s like to be the bullied kid, and I don’t think anyone watching could get through this without thinking of someone they knew as a kid that had to endure this kind of treatment. Her songs tore at the heart strings, particularly the several songs she sang in scenes with Katherine Steele in the role of her mother (Margaret White). These scenes were profoundly intense and captured a changing relationship in a raw and uncomfortable way. It was genuinely moving.

I don’t think the intensity would have been as convincing without Brooke Sikkema’s portrayal of the evil Chris Hargensen. As the anti-Carrie, she exuded a palpable sense of human indifference that we have probably all seen back in school. There are just those people that are so uncaring, and Brooke played it convincingly. I also appreciated the performances of Kate Fruehling (Sue Snell) and Douglas Shao (Tommy Ross). I thought they represented our collective conscience and the thoughts of mature and honest people. In their attempt (in vain) to make up for Sue’s prior insensitivity toward Carrie, they showed how hard it is for us to make amends for our treatment of others and made us see how hard it is to be forgiven by those we may hurt.

The Director’s note in the program drew a linkage between what we see in this play and what really happens to bullied kids. Maybe paranormal payback isn’t so common, but we’ve seen young people lash out in mass shootings around the country. There is a life lesson in this play, and I feel the cast really made us think about the issue of bullying in school. I think the director (Mark Andrew Reyes) made this play relevant and poignant.

For those on the fence about seeing a horror movie musical, I hope you’ll go see this play. This is no kids play, it is mature and powerful production with some intense feelings. This play does what theater should do, it will make you think and feel. To all that were involved in this production…good for you, you nailed it.

Carrie the Musical plays through August 7. Get info and tickets at

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