Review: Cardinal Music’s Carrie More Magnificant Musical Than Horror

(Sydney White (centre), playing the role of Carrie White, the protagonist, in Cardinal Music Productions presentation of Carrie The Musical, is surrounded by some of her high school classmates, on the play’s opening night at the Green Room Theatre at E.J. Lajeunesse High School in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, July 5, 2019. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)

It may not sound quite right, but Cardinal Music Productions presentation of horror master Stephen King’s Carrie the Musical, serves up a spectacular sequence of songs and dances with a cast, nineteen voices strong, who move about the stage in perfect choreography and gather for various rousing chorus numbers.

The Cast of Cardinal Music Productions Carrie The Musical singing on stage

Fourteen cast members singing in Cardinal Music Productions presentation of Carrie The Musical on the play’s opening night at the Green Room Theatre at E.J. Lajeunesse High School in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, July 5, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Then there are the solos that soar aptly and sensationally sung by Carrie White herself, played by the highly impressive Sydney White, and school mates the stalwart Nick Palazzolo, in the role of Tommy Ross, and the statuesque Regan White as Sue Snell.

Actors Nick Palazzolo and Sydney White in Cardinal Music Productions presentation of Carrie The Musical

Nick Palazzolo (left), cast as Tommy Ross, and Sydney White, cast as Carrie White, in Cardinal Music Productions presentation of Carrie The Musical, performing on the play’s opening night at the Green Room Theatre at E.J. Lajeunesse High School in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, July 5, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Carrie’s story is one of sadness, the odd person out, the whipping girl for her whole high school. This is dramatically illustrated by her first period happening in a gym shower room. That she doesn’t fully understand her womanhood makes her the subject of school scuttlebutt and innumerable jokes.

But she is different. She not only has resolve but discovers a significant telekinetic ability. With this power, when push comes to shove, she will deliver the ultimate revenge.

Cast of Carrie The Musical by Cardinal Music Productions performing a chorus

Several of the nineteen cast members in Cardinal Music Productions presentation of Carrie The Musical performing a chorus with their exceptional voices on the play’s opening night at the Green Room Theatre at E.J. Lajeunesse High School in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, July 5, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

But before that happens, the story follows her transformation from outcast to prom queen. Director Joe Cardinal tells Eyes On Windsor the play is really mostly about the music and, to be honest, musicals are not usually scary, so there is much to enjoy as the plot progresses to the point Carrie’s circumstances change so much she turns up at the prom on the arms of Tommy.

Nick Palazzolo and Sydney White in Carrie The Musical by Cardinal Music Productions

Tommy, played by Nick Palazzolo, and Carrie, played by Sydney White are crowned Prom King and Queen in Cardinal Music Productions presentation of Carrie The Musical on the play’s opening night at the Green Room Theatre at E.J. Lajeunesse High School in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, July 5, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

The reason for the connection between the two is a pang of conscience on the part of Sue, Tommy’s girlfriend and love interest. Carrie’s treatment by her peers upsets Sue to no end, enough to convince Tommy to be Carrie’s prom escort. The day before, in a heartwarming scene, Tommy recreates the prom solely for Sue.

Regan White and Nick Palazzolo in Carrie The Musical

Regan White, cast as Sue Snell, trying to convince her boyfriend Tommy Ross, played by Nick Palazzolo, to take Carrie to the prom in Cardinal Music Productions presentation of Carrie The Musical on the play’s opening night at the Green Room Theatre at E.J. Lajeunesse High School in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, July 5, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Her decision to give up her prom might well have been a stroke of genius, at least on the part of Stephen King in a classic King turn of events.

Like any good story there are indications of what is to come. In Carrie, a recurring scene has Sue being interrogated for what happened at the prom after Carrie and Ross are crowned the night’s royal couple and after a little something orchestrated by Carrie’s nemesis Chris Hargensen. It bears asking why one of the school’s “it” girls would even care about a loser like Carrie. It is a good question. The answer lies in the particular arrogance of Chris’ personality, a role Serena Barr plays with considerable passion and some very good dance moves.

Actor Serena Barr in Carrie The Musical

Serena Barr, cast as Carrie’s nemesis Chris Hargensen, performing in Cardinal Music Productions presentation of Carrie The Musical on the play’s opening night at the Green Room Theatre at E.J. Lajeunesse High School in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, July 5, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Carrie, it turns out, is probably the reason Chris is forbidden from attending the prom with her beau Billy Nolan, a part taken on by Owen Bortolin. Revenge is about to be served, but it will meet its match.

Actors Owen Bortolin and Serena Barr performing in Carrie The Musical

Serena Barr (front) playing Carrie’s nemesis Chris Hargensen performing with Owen Bortolin who plays the role of her boyfriend Billy Nolan in Cardinal Music Productions presentation of Carrie The Musical on the play’s opening night at the Green Room Theatre at E.J. Lajeunesse High School in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, July 5, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

What happens at the prom takes the play into a dark corner of Stephen King’s world which plays out amid particularly accentuated lighting and super charged emotions making for a less than predictable ending and a good reason to take in this worthy effort just to see how it turns out.

Actors Owen Bortolin and Serena Barr performing in Carrie The Musical

Owen Bortolin (left), cast as Billy Nolan, and Serena Barr, cast as Carrie’s nemesis Chris Hargensen, performing in Cardinal Music Productions presentation of Carrie The Musical on the play’s opening night at the Green Room Theatre at E.J. Lajeunesse High School in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, July 5, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Carrie, The Musical, is directed by Joseph Anthony Cardinal, the principal of Cardinal Music Productions, now in its fifteenth year of delivering outstanding performances. Drew Beaudoin handles musical direction while Nina Clare Fasullo is the master choreographer who plotted to perfection the frenzy of action on the stage.

Brandon Presley performing in Carrie The Musical

Brandon Presley playing the role of teacher Mr. Stephens, performing in Cardinal Music Productions presentation of Carrie The Musical on the play’s opening night at the Green Room Theatre at E.J. Lajeunesse High School in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, July 5, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

The play adapted from Stephen King’s horror novel and will run in the Green Room Theatre at E.J. Lajeunesse High School at 600 E.C. Row Avenue W, on July 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, & 14. Shows take place at 8pm on Friday and Saturday, and 2pm on Sunday. Tickets are $25 for general seating and available at the Cardinal Music box office at 2569-B Jefferson Blvd. or by calling 519-944-5800.

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Event Listing: Carrie The Musical Presented by Cardinal Music Productions

Sydney White and Melissa Mills performing in Carrie The Musical

Carrie, played by Sydney White, with her mother Margaret, played by Melissa Mills, performing in Cardinal Music Productions presentation of Carrie The Musical on the play’s opening night at the Green Room Theatre at E.J. Lajeunesse High School in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, July 5, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

The cast singing during Cardinal Music Productions presentation of Carrie The Musical

A somber chorus bringing Carrie The Musical presented by Cardinal Music Productions to a close on the play’s opening night at the Green Room Theatre at E.J. Lajeunesse High School in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, July 5, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Robert Tuomi

Article by Robert Tuomi

For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.