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Electrifying energy and raw emotion: University of Bristol students shine in 'Carrie: The Musical'

Amaan Ali reviews Musical Theatre Bristol's latest musical Carrie.

By Amaan Ali, Opinion Editor

As the curtains rose the anticipation for Musical Theatre Bristol’s rendition of "Carrie: The Musical" was intense. Directed and performed entirely by university students, this production promised a haunting take on the classic tale of adolescent angst, supernatural power, and tragic consequences.

From the opening number, it was evident that this was not going to be a typical student production. The energy radiating from the stage was electric, drawing the audience into the haunting world of Carrie White. The set design was chilling as it had a dark gothic theme, and as we entered to take our seats, it felt like we were walking into a haunted mansion filled with mysterious statues and ominous music played by the live band.

In the lead role of Carrie White, Phoebe Taylor delivered a breathtaking performance that showcased both vulnerability and strength. Her portrayal of the bullied teenager grappling with her newfound powers was raw and emotive, drawing the audience into her world of isolation and torment. Every tremble of her voice and every tear shed felt genuine, making Carrie's journey all the more heart-wrenching to witness.

Opposite Carrie was Lily Sutcliffe as Sue Snell, whose portrayal of guilt and redemption added depth to the narrative. Their chemistry on stage was beautiful, and truly captured the essence of a complicated friendship.

However, it was Carrie's mother, Margaret White, portrayed by Grace Shropshire, who truly left a lasting impression. Grace brought a chilling intensity to the role, portraying Margaret as a deeply troubled and fanatically religious woman whose love for her daughter is twisted into something monstrous. Her haunting rendition of "And Eve Was Weak" sent shivers down the audience's spines, capturing the character's devotion to God and descent into madness. Both Phoebe and Graces vocals were outstanding, and they melded beautifully with thanks to vocal director Sarita Saha who worked tirelessly to help create the perfect harmonies. Whenever Carrie and Margaret White were on stage you could tell you were about to get a performance worthy of the West End.

The supporting cast also deserves praise for their contributions to the production. From the menacing presence of Chris Hargensen played by Evie King to the loving nature of Tommy Ross played by Will Cruddas, each character was brought to life brilliantly. Special mention must be made of the ensemble, whose synchronized choreography and harmonious vocals elevated the musical numbers to new heights. Their little interactions while the main cast led made the stage truly feel like a high school and brought further immersion to the performance.

Of course, no review would be complete without mentioning the technical aspects of the production. The lighting design effectively captured the mood of each scene, from the ethereal glow of Carrie's telekinetic powers to the ominous shadows that lurked in the background. Similarly, the sound design was flawless, a live band that played all the numbers was a fantastic touch and really brought the production to an even greater height.

In conclusion, Musical Theatre Bristol’s production of "Carrie: The Musical" is a triumph of talent, creativity, and passion. Through stellar performances, innovative staging, and meticulous attention to detail, the student cast and crew have breathed new life into a classic story. Musical Theatre Bristol have shown they are unmatched in their skill to produce a captivating performance that will make you fall in love with theatre, and I can’t wait to see what else they have in store.

Featured Images are courtesy of Isabel Hay

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