Wednesday, 26 September 2012

“…And Eve Was Weak”: Randomness on Carrie on stage and on screen

If you follow theatre you’d know that one of the most infamous flops in Broadway history was Carrie, an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel. Carrie has been on mind a whole lot this past week, in various incarnations. “Flop” or no, the musical has endured as something of a cult classic and the moderately successfully Broadway revival earlier this year released a cast album of yesterday with theatre thespian Marin Mazzie playing the infamously terrifying mother Margaret White. The score for Carrie includes some gems, but the one I always return to is Margaret’s second number “And Eve Was Weak”. The alarmed Carrie goes home to tell her mother about getting her first period and not understanding what it means. The ultra religious Mrs. White launches into a religious tirade of the existence of the “period” an indication of Eve’s first sin – and weakness. And thus a song is born.

The top version is Marin Mazzie's audio only in the revival, the second video is a bootleg of the song and the preceding prayer song between Carrie and Margaret in the same 2012 revival ("Eve" begins at 2:50) and the bottom one is Betty Buckley in the original Broadway production in 1988, although the first half of the video is superimposed with various production clips.

Now, Betty Buckley is one of the true legends of the stage and her voice is a force, in turn her rendition (and a live one at that) is spectacular. There’s a fallacy often promulgated which suggests that musical theatre is not conducive for every type of story, and I suspect that the horrific weirdness of Carrie might seem an odd choice for a musical but “And Eve Was Weak” is such a masterful example of the story’s theme. The book for Carrie was reportedly clunky, the direction, too, was reportedly frenetic but the score is a beauty and this is song is a particular gem. The recollection of the religious tone in the music, the reverberating nature of the lyrics – like a prayer, and the chilling final word from the Margaret, “Amen” all so finely encapsulate the nuanced character of Margaret White. Theatre actor/writer/ singer Seth Rudetsky expertly deconstructs Betty’s rendition of the song.
Of course with “And Eve Was Weak” on my mind I couldn’t help but think of the upcoming new Carrie film adaptation with Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore. I haven’t seen the most famous incarnation (with excellent turns from Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie) in some time so I’m not particularly annoyed at this new adaptation because that one is not fresh in my mind. (A re-watch is in order.) Still, I immediately wish the new adaptation was an adaptation of the musical. In keeping with recent trends of remaking stage versions of film classics (Nine, Hairspray) I’d be all for a Carrie musical film. I’ve not been lucky enough to see it on stage, but the high camp nature of some aspects of Carrie would seem to be only augmented through the use of music in a good way, I think. It's why the musical has always intrigued me.

For now, I’ll go listen to Marin and especially Betty singing “And Eve Was Weak” on a loop. Through the bootleg both women still manage to expertly illustrate so much of the eeriness of Margaret White - mostly with their epic voices. Julianne wouldn't have excellent music, but I'm just as hopeful that she shall be as memorable in the film.

 Have you ever paid attention the history of the flop of Carrie the musical? Intrigued for the 2013 adaptation? How much does “And Eve Was Weak” make your blood curdle?


Walter L. Hollmann said...

Oh my Lord, I ADORE the musical. An admirer of Betty Buckley, you know I put "When There's No One" on loop, and of course "And Eve Was Weak". But I genuinely love so much more than just Margaret: "Wotta Night" and "In" date the source, but the latter at least has some fun while introducing the high school social strata; "Dream On" is lovely, "Don't Waste the Moon" is actually fun, Darlene Love sells the hell out of "Unsuspecting Hearts", both versions of "Heaven" get to me...and lately I've grown to like "It Hurts to Be Strong".

So, yeah, I'm just as disappointed that the new version is not a musical. And that's all I'm disappointed by. I LOVE the '76 version -- I mean, I have both the soundtrack and the *special edition* soundtrack, and the DVD, and, and -- but I've never been against remakes. They don't "ruin" the original (which will always be there!), and if they're in the hands of a director who's proven to have their own vision, all the better. It's bound to make my Top Ten Most Anticipated of 2013.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

walter the score is real full of under-appreciated gems. the revival recording is as good as can be hoped, and i LOVE marin but egads betty's vibrato on "evening prayers" and "open your heart"! "unsuspecting hearts" is lovely, and i'm very partial to the new act 2 opener.

where marin definitely wins betty for me is with her "when there's no one" which works so well with her pitch and is even more chilling because of how tender it is. it's as if, she sounds so gorgeous i almost don't mind she's planning to kill her daughter. almost. (end theatre geek-out.)

i agree. if remakes are bad, they don't hurt the original for me, and if they're good. bring on the goodness.