An updated revival of the musical “Carrie,” the legendary 1988 Broadway flop based on the 1974 Stephen King novel, opened Thursday night at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in Manhattan’s West Village.
The 1988 original was a big, gaudy spectacle, whereas this off-Broadway version is Minimalist, bordering on austere. The action has been moved from the 1970s (of both the book and 1976 film by Brian De Palma) to our own time — and this change proves to be shrewd. Religious fanaticism and the bullying of awkward teens is possibly even more topical today than it was in decades past.
This time, after the mean girls who torment Carrie White in the showers (one of the book and film’s signature scenes), they tweet about it.
Updating the setting to contemporary America — along with some judicious pruning of the original book and score — makes “Carrie” no longer seem like a “catastrophe,” “garish” and “ 'Bye-Bye-Birdie’ gone bonkers” as reviews of the original called it. (True, other shows have gone on to lose more money and earn more scathing reviews, but Ken Mandelbaum’s 1991 bible on Broadway bombs is titled “Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops.”)