Some things are, indeed, better the second time around. We weren't among the select few who saw the infamous 1988 Broadway production of "Carrie," known for being bloody, campy and closing three days after it opened -- losing huge sums of money. But the reworked, restrained revival of the musical now playing off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre is casually mesmerizing.

For those unfamiliar with either the Stephen King novel or the movie starring Sissy Spacek, "Carrie" is the story of a telekinetic high school outsider with a fanatically religious mother. She unexpectedly gets invited to the prom and voted prom queen, only to be vehemently humiliated by a mean cheerleader-type seeking misplaced revenge.

Michael Gore's score (with lyrics by Dean Pitchford), revamped from the Broadway version, is tuneful -- even elegant, particularly in several duets sung in counterpoint by Carrie (Molly Ranson) and her mother Margaret (Marin Mazzie). Both women's voices soar to otherworldly effect. Matt Williams's easygoing choreography captures the angst and joy of being a teenager.

Director Stafford Arima, book writer Lawrence D. Cohen and the entire creative team zero in on Carrie's -- and to a lesser extent her classmates' -- alienation and anger. Ranson nails Carrie's mood swings, and Mazzie is fantastically eerie as her mom. Christy Altomare is affecting as the one young woman who tries to do right by Carrie, only to end up being questioned by the police.


If you go


The Lucille Lortel Theatre

121 Christopher St.

$89, 212-352-3101
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