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Out for Blood - Story of a bloody mess of a musical wins Theatre Book prize

The stage musical version of 1970s film Carrie was a major flop - at first. Now author Chris Adams's book on the show has won a prize
Winner: Chris Adams's book about Carrie the Musical

A book about the history of the flop musical version of cult film Carrie has won this year's Society for Theatre Research Book Prize, announced moments ago.

The 26th award in the series goes to Out For Blood: A Cultural History of Carrie the Musical by Chris Adams, published by Methuen Drama.

Featuring contributions from over 80 original cast members, creatives, crew and audience members, the book pieces together the surprising, hilarious and often moving story of the show to discover how this "horror of a Broadway musical" lived, died and was subsequently resurrected as a mainstream success story.

Chris Adams is the co-creator and co-host of popular podcast Out For Blood: The Story of Carrie the Musical, and a big fan of the original movie. His daytime job is as a marketing manager for West End musicals.

Hammered by critics after opening in Stratford-on-Avon, the show, plagued by technical problems, managed only 21 performances on Broadway - 16 of them previews - before being closing. Comparisons with Mel Brooks’s famous parody, Springtime for Hitler in The Producers were thick on the ground.

The book is a compelling mix of Schadenfreude narrative - just about every page contains an eye-opening anecdote - and reminiscences from survivors, including Linzi Hateley, who as a teenager played the title role.

As well as song-by-song analysis, Adams 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.”

Patching together memories, archive material and contemporary reports, Out For Blood dives into the origins and development of the show and examines how a promising production can swiftly gain notoriety; what makes or breaks a Broadway show, and how even the most unlikely of musicals can find fans.

Theatre critic and prize judge Clive Davis said, “Out for Blood is the kind of book, entertaining and thoroughly researched, that ought to appeal to several different kinds of audiences. It’s a detailed insider account of the gruelling business of putting on a musical. 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..."

The winner was chosen from a shortlist that included books by the late designer Richard Pilbrow, musicals star Michael Ball, director Bill Alexander and national treasure, Dame Judi Dench.

The book prize was established in 1998 to encourage the writing and publication of books on British-related theatre history and practice, and previous winners include Oliver Ford Davies and

Antony Sher.

More info here


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