BWW Interviews: MURDER BALLAD Presents Up Close Killing

BWW Interviews: MURDER BALLAD Presents Up Close Killing

MURDER BALLAD offers its four actors little room to hide when the show makes its Midwest debut Aug. 7-16 at the Short North Stage's Green Room in downtown Columbus. The rock musical is set in a bar and the action takes in and around the audience.

The Short North Stage will be one of four theaters nationwide to present MURDER BALLAD, which was written by Jonathan Larson Award winner Julia Jordan and indie rock singer/songwriter Juliana Nash.

"With theater there is always a chance something could go wrong but when the actor is like three feet away from (the audience), you can read and register everything on their face," says director Edward Carignan, who also directed HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH and THE WHO'S TOMMY at the Short North Stage. "You really connect with the characters because they're not on a stage and you're in the audience. They're all around you. Breaking down those barriers is a whole different theatrical experience."

"These are my favorite kind of shows. We perform within the audience so they can feel the intimacy," adds Kaitlin Descutner, who plays Sara in MURDER BALLAD. "(As an actor) You have to get into a zone. You have to pretend that the audience's not there or at least they're a normal crowd within a bar but you know all eyes are on you."

Descutner's Sara is the center hinge in a lethal lovers' triangle. On one side is Tom (played by Jason Crase), a bartender and Sara's old boyfriend from her barfly days. On the other side is Michael (Nick Cirillo), the person who married Sara and took her way from the nightlife scene.

"It is definitely an emotional roller coaster for sure," Descutner says. "Sara's this edgy rock chick who was living the night life. Throughout the show, she is trying to figure out what she wants. She becomes bored with this stay-at-home mom type of lifestyle. All of sudden, she finds herself missing that extreme lust she had for Tom. (She is trying to figure out) who she is and what kind of lifestyle she wants.

"The show is called MURDER BALLAD so you can kind of guess what's going to happen in the end. It's a question of who is going to die and who is going to do it? It's intense but a real cool show."

After working with Descutner and Crase in TOMMY, Carignan knew he had found the right actors here in Columbus to be his Sara and Tom.

"They are both extremely talented actors that have extremely good rock voices," he says. "When they sing, there's something that goes 'Wow that was incredible.'"

Carignan found Cirillo and Corinne David (who plays the narrator) in auditions in Washington D.C. Both are members of the acting program at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va.

After his stint with MURDER BALLAD, Cirillo will embark on a yearlong national tour with SISTER ACT. While he has never worked with Cirillo before, Carignan worked with David in ALL SHOOK UP last fall.

"She has this incredible belting voice that blows you away," he says. "I knew she'd be right for this.

"The role of the narrator is an interesting role for an actor. Generally narrators are sort of an information only type of role. The role in this play is designed to become more and more involved with the show as the plotline goes on. She becomes a part of the story."

While the opening number hints that one of the actors is not going to make it through the play alive, Carignan hopes to keep the audience guessing who gets murdered by whom until the final number.

"It's a kind of a dark, very twisted love story," the director says. "You have characters going back to old lovers and betraying each other. I remember seeing it in New York and just being captivated by it. You really leave the theatre thinking 'Oh wow that was something different than what I have experienced in the past' but not in an abrasive way."

Rose-Tinted Productions will present MURDER BALLAD 8 p.m. Aug. 7-9 and Aug. 14-16 at Short North Stage (1187 N. High Street in Columbus). Tickets begin at $30 and are on sale now by visiting or calling 614.725.4042. Due to the intimate nature of this production, a very small amount of tickets are available for each performance.

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From This Author Paul Batterson

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