‘Carrie’ Preview: Vanderbilt Off-Broadway’s Halloweekend performance

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway will present “Carrie,” a challenging, gory show from Oct. 28-30 at the Rothschild College black box.


Marissa Tessier

The choreography of the show features dynamic movement, as photographed on Oct. 7, 2022. (Hustler Staff/Marissa Tessier)

Marissa Tessier, Staff Writer

Remember when you got your period for the first time and then discovered that you have telekinetic powers? No? Well, that is exactly what happens to Carrie in the musical adaptation of Stephen King’s first novel, “Carrie,” which Vanderbilt Off-Broadway will perform during Halloweekend.  

“Carrie” follows the story of Carrie, (senior Sarah Lovett), a young girl who grows up in a strict, pious household. When abuse from her mother and classmates is combined with discovering her own supernatural nature, a violent turn of events ensues.

Stage Manager and senior Lily Gussis provided some insight into why VOB chose “Carrie” for its fall show. 

“It’s an interesting story of naivety and the dangers of bullying seen through a horror lens,” Gussis said.  

Not only is the show fitting for spooky season, but it also features many female leads, as well as fun music–two criteria VOB hoped to incorporate in its fall show/this season.. Nonetheless, Gussis said VOB has encountered many challenges with the production of such a difficult show. 

“We have to make sure that we are tackling the subject matter in a way that is appropriate and sensitive to not only our cast, but our future audiences,” Gussis said. “The music itself is very difficult. There are many parts where everyone is singing something completely different, which makes it hard to learn. There’s been a lot of obstacles thrown our way, but we’ve taken every one in stride and have found many creative solutions.”

Drawing of VOB’s Carrie, Sarah Lovett. (Photo courtesy of @vandyoffbroadway on Instagram)
Drawing of VOB’s Carrie, Sarah Lovett. (Photo courtesy of @vandyoffbroadway on Instagram)

The show is set to be performed in the new Rothschild College black box. The new space features two dressing rooms, a full backstage area and a booth that is equipped with live video and audio monitoring. Gussis said the new space is an upgrade from Sarratt Cinema. 

“The Rothschild black box is more well equipped for theater than Sarratt is, especially for the technical elements required in a show like ‘Carrie,’” Gussis said. 

I had the opportunity to watch a bit of VOB’s rehearsal and was blown away by the professionalism of the cast and crew. Throughout the rehearsal, the 14-person cast showcased their strong vocals and powerful storytelling.

“They’ve all worked incredibly hard,” Gussis said. “A lot of our cast is also part of VOB’s mainstage production of ‘9 to 5,’ so sometimes they are doing six straight hours of rehearsal.”

Because of the serious nature of the musical, the show contains many content warnings: physical/emotional abuse, bullying, sexual assault, homophobia, religious trauma, heavy lighting effects, violence, gore and strong language.

“It’s very much a cautionary tale,” Gussis said. “One of the last lines in the epilogue is ‘What does it cost to be kind?’ It reminds us that even though we live in a very difficult world, it’s always best to choose kindness.”

Tickets for “Carrie” will be available on Oct. 13 with performances Oct. 28-30.