If you’re a horror fan, Carrie has probably come on your radar at some point, whether you’ve read the book or seen the films. However, if you’re unfamiliar with the premise, Stephen King’s 1974 novel depicts a bullying scenario gone horribly wrong. High schooler Carrie is tormented by her peers and her religiously zealous mother—until she discovers a hidden ability that allows her to strike back.
This week, Hart House will premiere its much-anticipated production of Carrie. Directed by Richard Ouzounian, Carrie: The Musical offers a new perspective on King’s story; Ouzounian’s adaptation features original music and choreography. In an interview with Brittany Miranda and Jacqueline Godbout, they discuss the depth behind their characters and the process of bringing Carrie to the Hart House stage. Miranda and Godbout play Margaret (Carrie’s mother) and Sue Snell (Carrie’s popular classmate), respectively.
The Medium: How does the music in this production work with the original story?
Brittany Miranda: When you think of a musical adaptation of a horror piece, you think it’s going to be comedic. But Carrie is unique in the sense that it doesn’t shy away from the horror aspects within the musical. As a result, the music actually brings out the inner depth, feelings, and emotions that are written in the book and seen in the movie. The music takes it to another level.
Jacqueline Godbout: I agree that it brings a certain depth to the characters that you don’t necessarily see in the novel. Margaret, for example, seems like a horrible, satanic woman. But she has songs in this script that bring out her vulnerability and humanity.
TM: What style of music will we see in Carrie?
JG: The music is very dramatic. It has a good rock base for the whole show.
BM: It’s very modern. Very edgy.
TM: Do you prefer working with musicals or non-musical productions?
BM: With a musical, you have to approach the music in the same way you approach a script. In order to make the lyrics of the song have depth, you need to read them as if you’re reading a monologue. The music adds a layer to the words. This is my first musical in a while. It’s great to delve into that process again, but I don’t have a preference per se.
JG: My approach is similar for musicals and non-musicals. But I do get an extra depth from singing.
TM: How are your characters in Carrie different from, or similar to, roles you’ve played in the past?
BM: This is the first time I’ve played a mother. It’s been really interesting finding that level of tenderness, and having to age myself in terms of maturity. I’ve never had to do that before with a character. I’ve also never played such a dark character. I think a lot of people see Margaret as evil, but I think she’s just somebody who’s had such a crazy past that it’s warped her into this person that she is now. As much as Margaret is seen as this overbearing, evil person, she does love Carrie and finding the love is such an interesting thing. Margaret still has that vulnerability and that humanity, and delving into that has been exciting.
JG: Sue is the most challenging character I’ve ever played. She has so many layers to her, which wasn’t something I noticed right away. I think she has the biggest arc out of any character I’ve ever played. It’s been challenging, but also very fulfilling to figure her out. When I first read the script over, I thought that Sue was the nice girl. But I think she’s probably one of the most flawed individuals in the show.
BM: [Jacqueline] is right, in that all the characters are so layered. They’re neither good nor bad, which is also very relevant in the real world. Not every person is just evil or just good.
TM: Is there any aspect of your character that you particularly enjoy bringing to life?
BM: It’s fun switching between the loving mother and the intense, crazed, biblical woman. Radical, I’d say. She’s not just religious, she’s an extremist, which I think makes her even more dangerous.
JG: I’ve really enjoyed bringing out the complexity of Sue. Her connection with Carrie is something that I’m still trying to figure out. How much of their relationship is because she feels sorry for Carrie, and how much of it is her trying to seem like the better person, to spite the other girls?
BM: With each character, they get to emphasize their pasts through the music. There’s one song that my character does called, “I Remember How those Boys Could Dance,” where she’s recalling the conception of Carrie. It’s pretty horrific and heartbreaking. It’s interesting to see the past and present constantly at war with each other.
TM: How do you prepare for your roles?
BM: Lots of practice. The music is complex, so rehearsing that has been a really big thing. Also, just reading the music as a monologue and building the character in that way.
JG: For me, it’s been a lot about discovering the script’s subtexts. To prepare, I’ve been journaling as Sue. That has helped me so much to discover all the subtexts underneath what she says to Chris and Carrie, specifically what she really means and what she really wants from those interactions. I feel that has given me a lot more depth to Sue, and I have a completely different understanding of her now.
TM: Is there a moment in the production that you’re looking forward to the audience seeing?
BM: [Ouzounian] has always stressed the ending of this piece. This musical has an underlying theme around bullying, which is so relevant today. Sothe way Richard ends the piece is challenging, but also gives the audience hope at the same time. I think we’re all looking forward to that. As well as the dance scenes, which are so fun.
JG: I completely agree. The ending is the most important message that we’re trying to get across. I think it’s also important to see Sue and Chris, and see that they’re not just the bullies. They both have a certain level of humanity that you can relate with.
Carrie: The Musical premieres at Hart House Theatre on January 20.