Tuesday, August 11, 2015

theatre review - MURDER BALLAD - A/C Theatre Company - August 7, 2015

Marshall Glass, Cassie Chilton, Kim Richards and Miguel Jackson
Photos by: CJ Mascarelli
Click here for more information on this production that runs through August 22nd.

"...A/C Theatre Company's first show, the Valley premiere of the 2012/2013 Off-Broadway musical Murder Ballad is a worthy debut production as this rock-centric show is a far cry from the usual commercial, well-known titles that tend to be done year after year by every company in town. While the musical itself isn't perfect, A/C's production is a worthy presentation, with a talented cast, atmospheric creative elements, and a smoking hot band....The 80-minute piece is sung-through with enough plot incorporated into the lyrics to not be confusing. However, the main problem with Murder Ballad is that the story is slight, familiar, and less than exciting. Fortunately, the score, with book and lyrics by Julia Jordan and music and lyrics by Juliana Nash, has a number of repetitive hooks and themes, a few of which you'll probably be remembering afterwards, which help detract somewhat from the slim plot.  A/C's cast is talented, led by Kim Richard as Sara. Richard has a powerful voice and the right look to make Sara at home in both of the worlds she finds herself in. ...Marshall Glass instills Michael with a mixture of nerdy, hipster, and boyish gestures that make it easy to see why Sara falls for him. Glass also has a nice chemistry with Richard, making you believe Michael loves Sara, and you also feel sorry for Michael once Sara finds herself being drawn to her past with Tom. Glass shows Michael's emotions on his face and the several fights he has with Richard's Sara are quite realistic and emotional...Cassie Chilton does a fairly good "rocker chick" impression as the Narrator, with wails and a husky, smoky delivery as she guides us through the ups and downs of the story.... As Tom, Miguel Jackson unfortunately has the least amount of range to play, though his solo "You Belong to Me" shows you exactly the type of forceful and seductive person Tom is ...Director Tim Shawver uses just about every area of the space to stage the action. Greg Hynes' vibrant set design is a seedy, dive bar with a large pool table at the center. While the set is static, Shawver manages to effectively portray the various locales of the story, even using the pool table as a stand in for the bed in Sara and Michael's apartment. While most of Shawver's staging works well, especially a crackerjack moment toward the end of the piece with all four characters moving in unison around the pool table, there is one bit toward the beginning, with Sara and Tom fumbling their way around the various set pieces, that is just clunky. With the four-piece band playing Justin Levine's orchestrations exceptionally well, Mark 4Man's music direction is simply superb. Daniel Davisson's lighting is excellent, always following the constantly moving characters and changing locations with ease, with the added bonus of some great floor mounted lighting that ups the intensity of several scenes....While Murder Ballad may not be the most original musical out there, it does have an interesting idea, with an intriguing plot point of just who will be the one murdered. It also has an intense score with rock hooks and memorable themes. Even though the end may be a bit underwhelming due to the slight and somewhat basic story, A/C Theatre Company's production is full of passion with a good cast, solid direction, theatrically rich creative aspects, and a superb band."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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