Musical Theatre Southwest bringing King's classic 'Carrie' to the stage - Albuquerque Journal

Musical Theatre Southwest bringing King’s classic ‘Carrie’ to the stage

Madison Rose Zehnder portrays Carrie in Musical Theatre Southwest’s production “Carrie: The Musical,” which opens on Friday, Oct. 7. The show runs through Oct. 23. (Courtesy of Musical Theatre Southwest)

Months of work is coming together and Lando Ruiz is ready to breathe a sigh of relief.

Since July, Ruiz has been at the helm of Musical Theatre Southwest’s production of “Carrie: The Musical.” On Friday, Oct. 7, the production opens for its run through Oct. 23.

“We’re in our final week of rehearsal,” Ruiz says. “It’s coming along great and I’ve wanted to put this show on since 2013 when I stumbled onto it.”

“Carrie: The Musical” is based on Stephen King’s iconic tale of Carrie White.

Carrie must fight to overcome a school of hostile teens and a toxic home life where her overbearing mother insists that Carrie is truly filled with sin.

Ruiz says the piece speaks to some emotionally intense and triggering topics such as bullying, abuse and religious indoctrination.

King’s blockbuster 1974 debut novel “Carrie” sold over a million copies in its first year of publication. The classic 1976 film adaptation became a critical and box office smash, and earned two Academy Award nominations.

First presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company, the original musical adaptation of “Carrie” premiered in Stratford-Upon-Avon in England for a limited run in February 1988. Transferring to Broadway, it opened at the Virginia Theatre on May 12, 1988. Fiercely polarizing audiences and proving wildly divisive with critics, the show famously closed after only 16 previews and 5 performances.

“I first became interested when I saw a Facebook post about Sandia Prep about to produce the show in 2013,” Ruiz says. “I immediately was interested because I was so curious how it would be possible to do a musical about a haunted car – I had gotten ‘Carrie’ confused with another one of King’s books, ‘Christine.’ That was the first exposure I had to the show, and I was left speechless by the end. This little-known musical had so many strong and accurate feelings of the internal struggles we all face about wanting to fit in, but wrapped in a package filled with special effects that roped me in and wouldn’t let me go.”

“Working with the cast has been amazing because I’ve had such a long time to work through all the ideas in my head,” Ruiz says. “Casting was difficult because everyone was great. The hard part was finding the right roles for the actor. I’m an actor myself and I know how important it is for each actor to bring their touch to the actor.”

Ruiz says the production is not the horror that King is know for.

“What drew me to this show is how relatable it is,” Ruiz says. “We’ve all been bullied and felt that we haven’t been part of the ‘in’ crowd. It’s coming into one’s own.”

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