Spooky musical to open theater season


Students in musical “Carrie” discuss show details with director John Ackman.

Claire Beckman, Reporter (She/her)

As the pumpkin spice and Halloween seasons collide, South Dakota State’s Theatre program has perfectly set the stage for its 2021-2022 season opener with “Carrie: The Musical.”

Opening on Thursday, Oct. 14, in the Oscar Larson Performing Arts Center, “Carrie” is a musical based on a book by Lawrence D. Cohen with music by Michael Gore and lyrics by Dean Pitchford. The book was adapted from Stephen King’s 1974 novel of the same name. 

This musical production presents the story of a seemingly awkward teenage girl who develops telekinetic powers. Carrie’s life is wrapped around an overbearing religious fanatic mother. After an unfortunate night after high school prom, Carrie does something unimaginable.

“Adding music to the story brings the characters and all of their emotions to life,” freshman Reagan Black said. Black plays Helen in the musical. As a caveat to the religious aspect of the piece, she also said, “I want people to know that the type of religion that (Carrie’s mother) practices is completely warped … it is not an accurate representation of Christianity; instead, it is a way that (she) copes with her own trauma.”

Senior Anna Cox is excited for her role as Carrie, and being able to pursue her passions and play a unique role is rather special to her. 

“I was delighted to get this role because it’s so different (from) anything I’ve ever done before, personally,” she said. “Playing a horror icon is really fun because being ‘scary’ isn’t something I get to do often.” 

When asked why this musical was the right fit as the season opener, director J.D. Ackman said, “We were thinking about a show that would be fitting for the Halloween season … The plot of the play is darker than many others [plays they’ve done in the past]. Carrie is something a bit different from the usual musical theater canon,” he added, so the audience will not be disappointed by this change of pace.

According to Ackman, the cast of the play is roughly half made of new students, either first-years on campus or those for whom it’s their first SDSU theatre production. 

“They have been disciplined, hard-working and a great group to spend time with,” he said.

Not only does Ackman feel this way, but Cox does as well about her castmates. “All the actors work so hard and are committed to their character and performance,” she said. 

Freshman Grant Hoogendoorn has enjoyed being in the cast. “As an incoming freshman, I was nervous about meeting new people,” he said, “but the cast has been very welcoming and awesome to be a part of. They have become some of my best friends in such short time, and I can’t wait for the public to see the show!”

The excitement surrounding “Carrie: The Musical” shines through by the tone of Ackman and how dedicated the cast is to make this season-opening musical a success.

The performance dates are Oct. 14-16 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. Students may attend free of charge with a valid student ID.