Scarrie–The Musical, Sweetback Productions, at the Sweet Corn Playhouse. Despite blazing pyrotechnics and the star presence of Betty Buckley, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s lavish musical adaptation of Stephen King’s schlocky coming-of-age story, Carrie, the Musical, was a colossal failure. Now, a full decade after the show was buried under an avalanche of negative press and even worse word of mouth, the spirit of one of Broadway’s biggest examplars of wretched excess and shockingly poor taste has been channeled into Scarrie–the Musical. Unable to procure the script and score, Stephen Queen and David Cerda have turned to the Brian De Palma film for inspiration. But many of the musical’s most grotesque comic moments–like Carrie’s first period and the blood-drenched high school prom–have been painstakingly re-created for maximum camp appeal.
That’s the tragedy of a production like Scarrie–the Musical. It revels in its own mind-numbing stupidity, as the actors–many of them in full drag–allow each gleefully vapid line of dialogue to hang in the air. As the title character, Timothy James-O’Brien perfectly captures Sissy Spacek’s deer-in-the-headlights gaze and cloying, breathy delivery. But try as they might, Sweetback Productions can’t out-camp the original. Unlike its predecessor, Queen and Cerda’s musical isn’t overwhelmingly pompous or lavish. It parodies something that was already a parody, even if unintentional. And as Scarrie unfortunately proves, a just plain terrible show and a self-consciously terrible show really aren’t all that different. –Nick Green