A couple of years ago, I was researching the history of the rock opera and its close cousin the musical for an article called “The Making of a Modern Rock Opera” for Vice, and I came across the craziest story of how a Danish high school found the sheet music for a long-forgotten Broadway flop in 2001 and made the only full recordings of it then known existence, albeit in Danish.
This musical was Carrie (1988), an unsettling adaptation of the Stephen King novel and Brian DePalma film cited as one of the worst productions in Broadway history, nearly decapitating one of its stars on opening night and costing $7 million to become the most expensive Broadway flop in history, up until Spider-Man (2013).
Now, of course, Carrie lives again in a semi-successful revival run, and new English-language recordings have been made. But for twenty years, only a few curious rubber-neckers interested in the wreckage of this failure really remembered Carrie, outside of these Danish school kids.
If you want to listen to the Danish kids singing joyful tunes about teen alienation and mass murders, go ahead and download the tracks from here (it’s a safe download link). It’s not that the recordings are “good.” It’s more that they’re “interesting artifacts that shouldn’t exist but do.” I’d love to see a mastermind work these into a screwed-up remix. (Other good listening, including original cast interviews and such, can be found here.) But I’ll leave you with this title track sample and the paragraph from the Wikipedia entry, because the song titles are just fucking fantastic.
The production was plagued with script and technical problems. The crew was unable to douse Hateley with fake blood without causing her microphone to malfunction. Rewrites continued following each show, and the program cited a song, “Once I Loved a Boy,” which had been rewritten and retitled “When There’s No One” prior to the first performance. Cook resigned when she was nearly decapitated by an elaborate set piece – the White’s Living Room, during “Open Your Heart” – on opening night, but she agreed to stay on until a replacement could be cast, which turned out to be the remainder of the show’s Stratford run. A musical section of the “Locker Room Scene” (which has come to be known as “Her Mother Should Have Told Her”) was removed after the initial few performances, and another song, “White Star,” was later excised.
Huh. I wonder why “Her Mother Should Have Told Her” got axed…