12 June 2024 / News

History of Carrie the Musical wins the 26th Society for Theatre Research Theatre Book Prize 2024

The Society for Theatre Research has awarded Out For Blood: A Cultural History of Carrie the Musical by Chris Adams (Methuen Drama) the Society for Theatre Research Theatre Book Prize for 2024.

Featuring contributions from over eighty original cast members, creatives, crew and audience members, Out For Blood pieces together the surprising, hilarious and often-moving inside story of Carrie The Musical to discover how this ‘horror of a Broadway musical’ lived, died and was subsequently resurrected as a mainstream success story.

Patching together memories, archive material and contemporary reports, Out For Blood dives into the origins and development of this infamous show and examines how a promising entertainment product can swiftly gain a notorious reputation, what makes or breaks a Broadway show, and how even the most unlikely of musicals can find its place in the hearts of fans around the world.

Chris Adams is the co-creator and co-host of the acclaimed podcast OUT FOR BLOOD: THE STORY OF CARRIE THE MUSICAL. A lifelong fan of Carrie, he works in London’s West End as a Marketing Manager of musicals.

Judge Clive Davis said:

“Out for Blood is the kind of book, entertaining yet thoroughly researched, that ought to appeal to several different kinds of audiences. For one thing, it’s a detailed insider account of the grueling business of putting on a musical. If you ever had any doubts about how much sweat and blood actors and technicians devote to their craft, you’ll learn lots here. There are insights, too, into how art and commerce can go to war with each other. Most of all though, it’s a book that appeals to our perennial guilty instinct for reading about disasters.

Hammered by the critics after opening in Stratford-on-Avon, the show, plagued by technical problems, ran for just sixteen previews and five regular performances before closing on Broadway. Comparisons with Mel Brooks’s famous parody, ‘Springtime for Hitler’ were thick on the ground.

Chris Adams has already co-hosted a podcast about the fiasco. His book is a compelling mixture of Schadenfreude narrative and verbatim reminiscences from survivors including Linzi Hateley, who, as a teenager, played the title role. Just about every page contains an eye-opening anecdote… But as well as song-by-song analysis, Adams also zooms in on the show’s unexpected rebirth, thanks to an army of obsessive online fans. Carrie The Musical may have failed the first time, but the curtain never quite came down. As Linzi Hateley observes, “I like to think of it now as the most successful flop on Broadway.”

The prize was judged by theatre critic Clive Davis, lecturer Dr Kate Dorney and PR rep Kevin Wilson on a panel chaired by STR Committee Member Howard Loxton. The winner was selected from the following shortlist:

  • A Sense of Theatre by Richard Pilbrow (Unicorn)
  • Different Aspects by Michael Ball (Blink Publishing)
  • Exploring Shakespeare by Bill Alexander (Nick Hern Books)
  • Out for Blood by Chris Adams (Methuen Drama)
  • Searching for Juliet by Sophie Duncan (Sceptre)
  • Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent by Judi Dench (Michael Joseph)

2024 marks the 26th STR Theatre Book Prize, which was established in 1998 to celebrate the Society’s Golden Jubilee. The aim of the Book Prize is to encourage the writing and publication of books on British-related theatre history and practice.

Recent winners include An Actor’s Life in 12 Productions by Oliver Ford Davies; Stirring Up Sheffield by Colin and Tedd George; Black British Women’s Theatre by Nicola Abram, and Year of the Mad King: The King Lear Diaries by Antony Sher. Previous members of the judging panel include actors Cleo Sylvestre and Corin Redgrave, producer Thelma Holt, actress-director Yvonne Brewster and critics Michael Billington and Cindy Marcolina.

The winner of this year’s prize was announced on 11th June 2024 at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.