On Thursday, Nov. 10, the University of Connecticut’s Page to Stage – a club dedicated to all things theater – put on a dress rehearsal for their upcoming production of “Carrie: The Musical” at Schenker Lecture Hall. When I arrived at the rehearsal space, I was immediately greeted by the actors, their director and the choreographer, all of whom seemed extremely excited to be part of the production. From the very start, I could sense the passion of the entire cast and crew, whose love for theater particularly shines throughout their work.
Caroline Lynch, a junior psychology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies double major, is directing production. When asked why they went with “Carrie” as the musical for this semester, Lynch implied it was a bold choice.
“A lot of musicals can tend to be pretty ‘one-note.’ They’re typically very happy and there’s not a lot of depth in characters,” Lynch said. “I wanted a production that was very actor-driven because we have so many strong actors in this club. So ‘Carrie’ just seemed like a really fun endeavor into something that we don’t typically see in musical theater. I wanted to give the group a challenge, and this show really fell into my lap as a really fun challenge.”
Page to Stage is a completely student-run club, where all of their funding comes internally from the members and crew. Despite relying on a smaller budget, Page to Stage managed to put on an incredible show. The costumes all fit the respective characters perfectly, and the lighting design was on-point. Their sets and props, while limited due to the grassroots nature of the club, complemented the show very well.
Kaitlyn Nusz, a sophomore English major, plays the titular role of Carrie White – which, according to her, is a daunting task at times.
“Playing Carrie is both exciting and completely nerve-wracking,” Nusz said. “The role is so physically demanding in regards to voice, but also emotionally demanding. Carrie goes through a lot in the show. It’s so incredible to play this role, but also a bit nerve-wracking because I want to do her justice.”
Before entering UConn, Nusz was subjected to pursue theater in the midst of the pandemic, where she gained a newfound appreciation for in-person productions.
“I had done virtual productions with my highschool theater group and I hated it,” Nusz said. “Virtual productions just aren’t the same. You don’t get to be in person with the other actors and you can’t get into characters as much as you could in person. I’m so glad that I have the opportunity to do this now in person without a mask. It’s amazing.”
The show “Carrie” follows the eponymous social outcast as she tries to navigate bullies, school and her uber-religious mother. Furthermore, Carrie possesses an ability that alienates her further from her mean-spirited peers: telekinesis. Cullen Murphy, who plays the popular Sue Snell, delivered a strong opening monologue that set the entire show into motion. The ensemble performed a riveting opening number, and the entire cast collaborated well with each other.
Lilli Querker, who plays Chris Hargensen, was as equally talented as her character was mean. Danny Kelly portrayed highschool heartthrob and football superstar Tommy Ross with great passion. And as Nusz entered the stage as Carrie, I was instantly floored by her performance. The breakout superstar portrayed the loneliness Carrie feels with great talent. My heart broke for Carrie. The singing in her first solo gave me goosebumps.
Overall, Page to Stage delivered a riveting performance. Most of their members are not a part of the Fine Arts theater program at UConn, but as an audience member, you would assume they were all professionally trained theater students. I am thoroughly excited to see how their opening night goes.
You can watch “Carrie: The Musical” at the Student Union theater this Saturday, Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. or 7 p.m., and this Sunday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale through UConntact.