• Kevin Broccoli

A Message From Our Fearless Leader

At the beginning of this year, I had a goal.

I wanted to collaborate.

Now, collaborating is a word a lot of theaters use and very few practice--and mine is no exception.

We love to say we collaborate, but, you know, collaborating is--

Ugh, it’s so hard.

Keeping the cogs and wheels of your own company moving smoothly is difficult enough. Forget about trying to bring in cogs and wheels from other companies and integrate them alongside your cogs and wheels. More often than not, if you don’t break the machine, you break the people operating it.

But when it all works, it really is something to behold.

This year, I was willing to risk breaking the machine if it meant what came out of it would be something bigger than what any single machine could create. Luckily for me, I work with a group of people who were willing to take that risk with me.

The result of that risk really has become something to behold--

A Rhode Island debut decades in the making.

It started when I went to see the off-Broadway revival of “Carrie,” based on the novel by Stephen King. It’s a notorious musical. Books have been written about how big of a flop it was when it premiered on Broadway. But years later, MCC Theater re-imagined the show in a much smaller space with a lot fewer bells and whistles, and what was revealed was a powerful story about bullying that horror fans and musical theater lovers could finally see the value in.

Years after that revival, I wanted to partner with my friends at the Academy Players on a musical that would merge the kind of high-impact programming we produce at Epic with the kind of full-throttle musicals they’ve become known for presenting. In recent years, instead of strictly playing it safe with their seasons, Academy has brought lesser-known gems to Rhode Island like The Bridges of Madison County and Parade. I had a wonderful time working on Hedwig with them, and it was clear they had the ability to give Carrie the stage she so rightfully deserves in their gorgeous and expansive cultural arts center.

The next piece of the puzzle came when I saw a stellar production of Bat Boy: The Musical at Providence College directed by my friend Jimmy Calitri. Jimmy has really helped PC’s theater department become a force to be reckoned with (their production of Something Rotten was one of the best things I saw year), and I knew he could handle all the moving parts of a horror musical while still understanding how to conceptualize the story in a way that would make sense for an intimate re-telling of such an iconic cultural touchstone.

The final sign that this project could really be something special was probably the most obvious: We needed a great Carrie White.

Many of you might know my friend Betsy Rinaldi from her performances at Epic and other theaters in the area, but she’s also one of the best musical theater actresses in the state, and I’m so happy that she gets to show off the full range of her talent in a role that seems tailor-made for her. She’s joined by a flawless cast under Jimmy’s brilliant direction, the equally amazing music direction of Emily Turtle, astonishing choreography by Chelsea Cook, and Epic’s very own stage manager Eric Pjojian. Academy and I share the talents of the same technical director, Alexander Sprague, and he’s truly outdone himself this time around.

What audiences may know as a gory tale about revenge is also a powerful look at the effects of religious extremism, isolation, the persecution of innocents, and the dangers of absent compassion. I have no doubt we can scare you with this one, but I think you’ll also find yourself very moved. I know I was when I got to watch the show’s finale last night.

I’m also certain that Academy’s production of Carrie is going to be one of the most talked-about shows of the winter, and I’m so happy that I was able to work in association with them on behalf of Epic to continue to tell stories that step outside the norm and seek to surprise you while we entertain.

As for the machine--it’s looking pretty good. A little bloody, but other than that...

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go get ready for prom.


Photo by Samantha Gaus Photography

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