BWW Review: MURDER BALLAD Slays at Footlite Musicals
The advertising is very clear: for mature audiences only. MURDER BALLAD is a rather steamy and enticing piece of musical theater. But Footlite Musicals has brought it to the stage in an even more enticing way by choosing it for their annual cabaret style performance. This setting coupled with the content of the musical made it one-of-a-kind.
The premise of the musical itself is simple. You start with four characters, the Narrator, Tom, Sara, and Michael, all the while knowing that one will be murdered. This setup creates the obvious anticipation of a whodunit, and that in no way detracts from the overall experience. The small cast makes it ideal for the cabaret format. The audience is literally surrounded by the action as the actors move between tables, down aisles, and bring you into the story. Footlite was very clever in their choice to do it this way because it enhances the intimacy and intensity of the story line.
The small cast leaves no room for wallflowers or weak voices, and this production overall did a good job with casting. The vocal intensity resonated the most for me with Bridgette Michelle Ludlow, who stars as Sara. She plays the woman torn between two men, the quintessential damsel in distress. Her voice moved easily from seductress to wounded woman to anger and fear. Her role demands a lot of flexibility and emotional range, and she rose to the occasion. Daniel Draves balances this intensity with his calm and charming approach to the role of Michael, making him the perfect foil for Dave Pelsue as Tom, who simply radiates emotional and physical intensity that is palpable as an audience member. Miranda Nehrig as the Narrator, while perhaps not as vocally strong, had the most stage presence and personality, quite literally crawling on, standing on, sliding down, and caressing nearly every set piece.
This musical intrigued me and drew me in the most because of its musical style. It reminded me of Green Day or My Chemical Romance, a pulsing rock music with impactful lyrics. Although I have seen rock opera style musicals of course, this was something different. I saw many audience members unconsciously bobbing their heads or tapping their feet as they listened. The music created by the band was an integral part of making this performance something different.
If you enjoy the thrill of a mystery, the pulsing beat of good rock, and the drama of a love triangle brought to you up close and personal, you cannot miss your chance to see MURDER BALLAD at Footlite Musicals through tonight, January 20th.