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Theater Review: 'Carrie' -- 2.5 stars

Molly Ranson, covered with blood-red light, in the

Molly Ranson, covered with blood-red light, in the revival of “Carrie.” Credit: Molly Ranson, covered with blood-red light, in the revival of “Carrie.”

2.5 stars

Obsessive musical-theater fans have waited a quarter of a century for the notorious 1988 Broadway musical "Carrie," which shuttered after just five performances and left behind no cast album, to receive a new production.

Alas, Stafford Arima's new Off-Broadway staging is not so much a revival as it is an unnecessary apology for the excess, mess and insanity of the bizarre original production.

"Carrie," based on Stephen King's classic horror novel about a bullied girl who discovers that she has telekinetic powers, remains the most infamous flop in Broadway history. It even inspired a must-have book about flop musicals titled "Not Since Carrie."

The original Broadway production tried to mix elements of Greek tragedy with pop ballads and "Saved by the Bell" aesthetics. It was wildly uneven, perplexing and kind of unforgettable.

Arima's coherent but unexciting production, which incorporates extensive rewrites, downplays the horror, spectacle and mayhem that made "Carrie" so wildly theatrical. It plays out like a realistic, but toothless and generic, parable of teen bullying.

The story is now unnecessarily framed as a flashback with Sue, the heartfelt teen
who survives Carrie's rampage, narrating to the police. And Miss Gardner, Carrie's sympathetic gym teacher, sports an annoying Southern accent to differentiate her from everyone else.

The climactic sequence where a bucket of pig's blood is poured onto Carrie at the prom is merely suggested through video effects and a flood of red light, robbing the moment of its heightened gruesomeness.

The set is spare and the cast noticeably small, with just a handful of students. The offbeat choreography looks as though it was lifted directly from "Spring Awakening."

Marin Mazzie, who displays a quiet intensity as Margaret White, Carrie's religious fanatic of a mother, is noticeably restrained in the role.

Molly Ranson has a terrific voice but generally fails to suggest Carrie's extrasensory strength and spooky personality. At the prom, she looks and acts just like all the other teens.

If you go: "Carrie" plays at the Lucille Lortel Theatre through April 22. 121 Christopher St., 212-352-3101,

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