When the musical Carrie had a sudden early death on Broadway in 1988, few were as unhappy as three men who worked hard to give it life. Lawrence D. Cohen, Michael Gore, and Dean Pitchford, who wrote the script, music, and lyrics, clearly were not happy with the final product, which closed after five regular performances, lost $8 million, and became the most expensive flop in Broadway history at the time. Despite offers to produce the show elsewhere, the trio refused—until now, 24 years later.
A new version of the show—about a bullied teen with telekinetic powers who struggles against her overbearing mother—opens tomorrow off-Broadway at MCC Theater. "We've gone back and looked at every single inch, even numbers that were working fine, to see if we could do better," said Cohen. The new Carrie, directed by Stafford Arima, will be the third high-profile re-imagined musical in New York this season, following the reworking of Porgy and Bess, which is a hit, and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever with Harry Connick Jr., which failed. The re-imagined Carrie has new songs and a different structure, and the story is told from a different point of view. It also teases out two themes that seem very current: bullying and religious fundamentalism.