When Carrie met Harry at the Capital Fringe Festival
"Carrie Potter and the New Moon Prom" is not for everyone. It won't make much sense if you don't know J.K. Rowling from Stephen King. If you're sensitive about magic, lesbians or Christianity, you should stay away or lighten up. As the Landless Theatre Company explains in the final number of this cracked musical, "it's just a play." A play with a short shelf life at that. While it lasts (at Studio Theatre, through July 24) it's brilliantly bitchy fun.
Carrie (Nora Palka) is an outcast at Predestined Magic School (PMS), thanks to her poor magical skills and Methodist lineage. Her only friends are a pathetic house ghost (Cyle Durkee) and a butch werewolf (Clay Comer). The popular Heathers torment her at school while her mother (drag performer Lucrezia Blozia) abuses her at home for Judeo-Christian tendencies. Offering escape from this hellmouth is He Who Shall Not Be Named, otherwise known as Jesus Christ (Andrew Lloyd Baughman).
There are references here to satisfy all manner of geeks: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Star Wars, 1980s romantic comedy. Slightly subtler are the meta-jokes about musical theater conventions (ie, "Transitional Song.")
The targets are easy (the Sarah Palin reference seems particularly obvious), already the stuff of many a YouTube parody. Some of the musical numbers feel half-baked, and the choreography is deliberately haphazard. Still, it's the most polished and entertaining Carrie/Harry Potter/Twilight parody you're likely to find. Baughman and Durkee show off serious vocal skills, and through all the insanity Palka keeps the perfect expression on her face -- half-hopeful, half-demented.
-- Rachel Weiner