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Titans Bring Talent and Poignance to ‘Carrie: The Musical’

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High school outcast Carrie White endures bullying, oppressive mothering and a special talent in “Carrie: The Musical,” running Oct. 16-Nov. 1 at Clayes Performing Arts Center’s Little Theatre.

Musical theatre senior Madeline Ellingson, who plays the title role, wanted to do everything in her power to create “’my’ Carrie — putting in the work to back up my acting choices,” she says.

Joining Ellingson on stage as her mother is Brooke Aston Harper ’02 (B.F.A. theatre arts), a veteran performer who has toured with national productions of “All Shook Up” and “The Young Americans.” James Taulli, professor of theatre and dance, is directing the production, with musical direction by Mitchell Hanlon, also a professor.

professor of theatre and dance
professor of theatre and dance
professor of theatre and dance

“When I was approached to direct ‘Carrie,’ all I knew was that it was a flop on Broadway in the late 1980s, was based on a 1974 novel by Stephen King and a 1976 film starring Sissy Spacek,” says Taulli. “However, as I started to read ‘Carrie: The Musical’ and listen to the music, I realized this adaptation is much more. It takes place today and is much more than a horror story based on revenge. It is a morality play warning us against the effects of what many young people who are simply ‘different’ deal with every day — bullying.”

Ellingson agrees — she was bullied throughout elementary school. “I think we all can relate to Carrietta White to some degree. Bullying … surrounds our youth. I know that is how I level with Carrie,” she explains.

“Carrie has grown up thinking she is different from the rest. And for a time she accepted that, until she realizes that just maybe she can be happy like the rest — that just maybe she is like the other girls and just wants to be accepted for who she is. She finds she deserves a chance; she deserves happiness.

“One of my favorite things is the message this musical tells. One of the last lines in the musical is ‘What does it cost to be kind?’ We never know how our actions affect others. We never know what someone’s past is …. So what does it cost us to be kind?” adds Ellingson, who hopes to develop her career through regional productions and, one day, be on Broadway. “It costs us nothing. It gives us the opportunity to brighten someone’s day. It gives us the chance to make a difference. Instead of being mean-spirited, we are being compassionate and accepting; something I think today’s society strives for more and more every day.”

“Carrie: The Musical” contains mature adult content that may be offensive to some patrons. Tickets are available online or by calling 657-278-3371 weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.