“Carrie the Musical” Holds Unique Message for Genre

The production, though it is based off of a Stephen King thriller, takes a strong anti-bullying stance


Shaker Theatre Arts Department

Senior Ruby Gibson will star in “Carrie The Musical,” with her first appearance on Feb. 23.

“Carrie the Musical”, a Shaker Theatre Department production about high school senior Carrie White who is bullied and mistreated until she reaches her breaking point, debuts tonight at 7 p.m. in the large auditorium.

The play allows students who worked on the production for nine weeks to showcase their talents, and cast members hope to draw in both community members and their peers.

Theater Department Chairman Scott Sumerak said he was inspired by how hard the cast worked and said they threw themselves into the production — working hard to bring its message to life.

Inspired by horror writer Stephen King’s 1974 book, “Carrie”, the original musical was written by Lawrence D. Cohen, with lyrics by Dean Pitchford and music by Michael Gore. Shaker students will perform the score for this production.

“ ‘Carrie’ is about a girl who has never been validated, who lives under the shadow of an overzealous mother and a venomous school environment which also affects her classmates,” said Ruby Gibson, who plays Carrie White. “So, like Matilda, but bloodier — at prom, every dream that she’s built comes crashing down.”

Aside from its unique rendition of the novel, Sumerak chose “Carrie the Musical” for production because of its message.

Though most of King’s novels are relegated to the thriller and horror genres, this adaptation conveys more. “Even though it’s known as a horror story, there’s a really solid message of anti-bullying and being aware of abuse within the story,” Sumerak said.

According to Gibson, “Carrie the Musical” has a lot of female leads, which was great for the actors the production team had available.

“It was chosen to create awareness for bullying in our schools today,” freshman Isaiah Finley, who plays the role of class clown and senior photographer Freddy, said.

Sophomore and backstage crew member Caitlyn Shelley echoes Finley’s point. “The goal is to teach and show kids that a lot of bullying and abuse from people can lead to a big explosion from people in the end. It really enforces that you should try to be kind all the time — and to everyone,” she said.

Sumerak emphasized the importance of ensuring that all students feel safe in school. “One of the things that doesn’t get a lot of talk is creating an atmosphere where students feel safe,” he said. “Not because there’s a potential of violence, but because they feel like they’re not a valuable part of a community. They feel like they walk into school as a target not for violence, but for the little stuff; the microaggressions.”

Finley explained that “Carrie the Musical” is more than just a musical: it’s a play that has an uncomfortable and in-your-face meaning, and it’s put to music.

The play shows the impact of bullying in school. “I hope that this reaches the students that feel good about coming into school and gets them to maybe look at that student who never takes his eyes off the floor, or at that kid who’s struggling to get down the hallway and people are giving him a hard time” Sumerak said.

“For me, the most powerful message of the show is what the demonization of periods does to women; for someone else, it might be about healing after tragedy. There are so many real-life connections,” Gibson said.

“My other favorite thing is the blood. It’s a really fun effect. It’s super sticky, but it’s actually made out of chocolate syrup,” said Gibson.

The production will run for about two hours, and will be shown tomorrow at 7:00 pm in addition to today’s performance.

“I’m looking forward to seeing my friends perform, and I’ve heard they have cool special effects,” said freshman Melody Mayer.

Said Sumerak, “I hope that this play makes everybody else stop and go, ‘You know what, everybody is dealing with their own struggles and we should see that.’ ”

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