Carrie: The Musical
Special Effects Design and Automation
Written by Lawrence D. Cohen // Dir. by Jonathan Strayer // Scenic by Andrue Morgan // Lighting by Adam Boyer // Costumes Victoria Layser // Associate SPX Christian Curry // Photos by University Theatre
Carrie is a musical adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name. Notorious for its initial failure and ample use of blood, Carrie follows teenager Carrie White, a teenager girl with telekinetic powers who releases chaos upon her classmates after relentless bullying, culminating in a destrictive prom.
The goal with this show was to bring the magic of the director’s vision to life in a manner that matched the intensity of the characters and the emotion of the story, while also balancing the physical limitations of the performance space. I wanted to develop the effects in a practical way, to ensure that they were reliable and cost effective.
To realize the vision of the writers and director, I built custom rigs to provide various effects with the assistance of associate designer Christian Curry. Limited stagehands were available, so execution was focused on control through the lighting console. We designed and constructed a main control module to provide multiple power sources switched through DMX controllable relays, alongside a secondary single voltage unit.
We completed a total of 9 effects, most of which were concentrated within a 2 minute “destruction scene” towards the end of the second act. The simplest of these effects, the movement of some chairs through “telekinesis” was achieved through strings pulled by stagehands using cardboard tubes as handles. The most complex single effect was a blood rig for the mother Margret, who has blood seep across her chest. This was achieved through the use of a CO2 cartridge, controlled by a regulator, and triggered by an actor.