BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) — Why go into the closet when you can go down to the Dakota Stage this weekend, for an unusual spin on a horror classic?

Originally published by horror icon Stephen King in 1974, Carrie — about a young girl who awakens tremendous power to punish those who pushed her too far — was quickly picked up and adapted into a full feature film, which cemented its role in pop culture. And while the film was already a commercial success at the time — grossing over $33 million against a $1.8 million budget.

The screen adaptation of the story has since been lauded as one of the greatest horror films of all time, one of the best films based on King’s work, and the best iteration of the story, known for its haunting performances and well-done special effects. But as the praise would imply, there are plenty of adaptations of Carrie that have graced more than the big screen. And while they aren’t what you expect to see in Bismarck, there’s no better time to see these tales of terror come to life than October.

“It’s kind of unique to a lot of things we get in this area, but I think it’s a really powerful show that should be seen,” explains director Jeremy Lindemann.

Since the 1976 film, there have been other versions of the story that have come along — including a sequel film, two other standalone productions, and a miniseries reportedly in development. Stranger additions to the list of adaptations include not one, but two Broadway musicals. The first one was originally staged in 1988, though this was received abysmally by fans and critics. The play closed on the same year it opened, after 16 previews and only five regular performances. In fact, it’s gone down in history as one of the worst failures in the history of theatre. Thankfully, future renditions of the musical — including the version making its way to Dakota Stage — have received much more positive reviews.

“In the beginning, I know it wasn’t very well-received,” continues Lindemann, “and I know they did pretty much a complete rewrite with the music and book to really revamp it and give it new energy, and it did a lot better after that.”

This local production is an unusual mixture of iconic horror and music — a genre reserved only for the likes of the Phantom of the Opera — but, strangely, it seems to work: the two genres blend in an unusual manner, one not as operatic as Phantom but just as eerie.

“I think that the musical is fantastic,” says Marissa Carpenter, who was playing the title character Carrie the day of our visit. “It’s very interesting, the way that the movie or book itself translates so well to a musical. It’s got some fun songs in it, and some really nice ballads too.”

More important than the idea of the musical, too many, is one of the meanings behind the story of Carrie itself. It isn’t just a horror story: it’s also a cautionary tale about the harmful effects of bullying, and how you never know what’s going on in someone else’s life that could lead them down the path they take. Both this meaning, and the way it’s portrayed, are what give the tale its staying power.

“The biggest thing I hope people take from this,” states Lindemann, “is just a reminder to be kind to one another. You really don’t know what their home life is like, what their family life is like, or other things they may be experiencing outside of your immediate interaction. I think that it’s a good reminder to be empathetic and kind to one another no matter what the other person’s story is.”

“So many people have dealt with bullying in their life,” says Carpenter, “whether they have been a victim of it or seen it happen, and I think that the anti-bullying message is important for everyone to see.”

The show is most certainly not for kids, but adults will find the musical a great way to kick off the spooky season. There are still three more showings of Carrie available for anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of the strange combination in action:

  • Friday, October 7 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 8 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 9 at 2:00 p.m.

Tickets for the show are available here. For more information about the musical, visit the web page of the Dakota Stage Playhouse’s 44th season, and look forward to another run of A Christmas Carol at the theater in December.

We’ll BRB next week with another report of the biggest events in Bismarck!