Thursday, March 1, 2012

On "Carrie: The Musical" and VH1

A wonderful friend of mine, Kathryn Kinley, and I met when we worked together at VH1 back in late '80s.  Kath was the anchor of "Entertainment Watch" and covered all the show biz news.  She was a Miss America contestant one year before starting her broadcast career.  As lovely a blonde as she is on the outside, that loveliness is topped by her heart.  Her heart is a truly beautiful thing.  She is one of the dearest, kindest, most supportive and resilient people I know.  Kinley's probably the only former beauty pageant contestant who got on national TV and said that the Academy should nominate Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing for Best Picture.  She said that in a segment we did together on VH1.

One day at work, she told me she was really excited about the opening of a Broadway show she'd be attending that night.  I asked her what show she'd be seeing.  She answered, "Carrie: The Musical."
Yes.  This was a 1988 Broadway musical version of the hit horror movie based on a story by Stephen King.  The film starred Sissy Spacek as the shy, constantly abused and ridiculed high schooler, Carrie.
For all of us who'd ever been bullied, teased, turned down for dates or stood up on dates, Carrie was the feel-good movie of 1976.  Carrie's psychic powers were unleashed with a deadly vengeance and her mean classmates got their come-uppance Stephen King-style.  In 1988, Broadway felt this story needed showtunes and big production numbers choreographed by Debbie Allen.
Kathryn attended opening night.  When she came to the VH1 studio the next day, she looked stricken.  Especially when I asked her, "How was the show?"  As if she was a character issuing a serious warning in a horror film herself, she said "Bobby, do not make the same mistake I did."  She then closed her eyes and put her right hand to her forehead.  "Honey," I said, very concerned, "what happened?"

Kathryn told me that, during intermission, she went to the lobby to get a beverage.  She ran into the show's publicist.  The publicist asked her what she thought of the show.  Kathryn sincerely and honestly replied, "You have got a hit on your hands turning this into a musical comedy."

Apparently the publicist stiffened and declared, "It's not a comedy."

Kathryn told me, "I just assumed it was comedy.  Just about everybody in my section was laughing at it."  She fretted that the publicist would never speak to her again.  I'm sure Kathryn's comment was forgiven considering the reviews that came out.  I heard one entertainment reporter on the local news say, "The most frightening thing about Carrie: The Musical was that it had a second act."

After all these years, that famous Broadway flop has been revisited and streamlined.  A redone, reduced version of it opens tonight off-Broadway.  Sometimes less is more.  Break a leg, cast and crew.  I'm eager to read the reviews for this new version.  So is Kathryn Kinley.

1 comment:

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