Murder Ballad Is The Killer of This Broadway Season
I am a seasoned attender of the theatre. Growing up outside of New York City, I have seen a TON of shows, from the bad to the phenomenal. Luckily, I had the opportunity to see “Murder Ballad” off-Broadway this past week. This is honestly one of the best things I have ever seen.
“Murder Ballad” tells the story of a couple, Tom (played by the brilliant Will Swenson) who is quite the bad boy and Sara (who was played originally by Karen Olivo- whom we adore- and now is played by the equally brilliant Caissie Levy), who fall in and out of love. Sara moves on from their young and tumultuous relationship and ends up getting married to a more straight-edged man named Michael (played by John Ellison Conlee). All is well until Sara starts to get a bit bored with her life and Tom re-enters it. From that point on, an interesting story unfolds. All of this is told by a Narrator (played by the stunningly brilliant Rebecca Naomi Jones). Of course, as implied by it’s title, the show also involves a murder. As the Narrator tell us in the opening number, “There’s always a killer, so logically someone has to die.
There are so many things to love about “Murder Ballad” and I will try to get through them all:
1. The staging of the show is amazing. Never have I seen a show like this where the audience is literally seated in the middle of the action, with the actors walking on the bar tables the audience sits at, sitting down with the audience members, etc. If you’re uncomfortable with actors getting too close to you, you may want to opt for the traditional side seat rather than sitting on the stage, as if you do they are likely to interact with you.
Rebecca Naomi Jones Stands On A Table In The Audience c/o MurderBallad.com
2. The cast is BRILLIANT. I have had the pleasure of seeing Caissie Levy before in “Hair,” and Will Swenson in “Hair” and “Priscilla Queen of The Dessert.” I honestly think these are the best performances I’ve seen Caissie and Will give. There is so much passion and fire in their performance and you can tell they are totally enraptured in it. In addition, Will’s voice has never sounded fiercer or better. This was my first time seeing Rebecca Naomi Jones in anything and I may say she made me a life-long fan. She is definitely the star of the show, as she portrays the complicated role of the Narrator with brilliant sarcasm and emotion. In addition, her voice is one of the best I’ve ever heard on a stage. John Ellison Conlee was also great.
Caissie Levy and Will Swenson
3. The music is ADDICTIVE. Since leaving the show Tuesday night, I have not been able to stop from having the soundtrack on constant replay. The soundtrack is exactly like the show- 80 minutes of rock and roll brilliance. My favorite songs included the intense “You Belong To Me,” the harrowing “Mouth Tattoo,” and the opening number, “Murder Ballad.” I also liked the semi-comical “Finale” song.
Caissie Levy and John Ellison Conlee c/o MurderBallad.com
4. The lack of dialogue. I LOVED the fact that the entire story was told through song and actions of the actors with very little dialogue. Not only is this impressive in theory, but the fact that actors were able to belt the entire time without cracking was amazing.
The Cast of “Murder Ballad” c/o MurderBallad.com
5. The choreography. The actors in this show move a LOT and the show is very physical in nature. Watching the show, I thought how exhausted they must be after a performance, not only vocally, but physically as well.
Overall, “Murder Ballad” was one of the best things I have ever seen on the stage and I daresay it is the killer of this Broadway season!In fact, I loved it SO MUCH that I am returning this week to see it again! I suggest you run over to Murder Ballad’s Website and buy tickets IMMEDIATELY. This is a rare theatrical experience you won’t want to miss!
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