REVIEW: Murder Ballad – (Arts Theatre) ✮✮✮✮

Last night, Murder Ballad had it’s official opening night at the Arts Theatre. With an A-list Musical Theatre cast any producer would dream of, the atmosphere in the theatre lobby pre-show was electric. Much like American Idiot which graced the stage before, it’s an American rock-opera ballad set in New York City. It follows the love triangle of Sara, Michael and Tom through a 90 minute story of lust, love and anger. The audience are taken on a journey of how these characters intertwine over the span of ten years, resulting in a murderous killer night. Written by Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash, the show moves very quick and oozes both sex and betrayal. Although not one of the most original of storylines, it still serves it’s purpose.


Kerry Ellis (Sara) and Norman Bowman (Michael)

Jordan and Nash’s songs are a pop/rock mash-up and are delivered with powerhouse vocals, utter ease and passion. With the show being solely sung-through, it;s vital to remain concentration otherwise you may find yourself lacking interest or slight confusion. Although the development of the characters moves fast, the piece as a whole is quite slow paced and doesn’t pick up until towards the end.

Kerry Ellis, plays leading lady Sara who is at the forefront of this love dilema. She belts out the power ballads with control and confidence as she is no stranger to this genre of music. Although her performance impressive, her on stage chemistry with old flame Tom (Ramin Karimloo), at times seems to lack.

Kerry Ellis (Sara), Ramin Karimloo (Tom) & Norman Bowman (Michael)

You can’t fault the passion oozing from this foursome and it’s very obvious that the songs were made to be sung by them. The Narrator, played by Victoria Hamilton-Barritt completely steals the show and keeps the audience not only in line with whats happening but engaged throughout. Her sass, stage presence and vocal ability are an absolute delight and her performance shines so bright. It’s great to see her back on stage in a role that she plays so effortlessly.

Kerry Ellis (Sara) & Victoria Hamilton-Barritt (Narrator)

Sam Yates direction is spot on and the simplicity of the set creates the right amount of motion on stage. However, perhaps it’s the short running time or the fact that the characters aren’t all that interesting, that you’re left not caring to much about how the story ends. The stellar casting is what really lifts the piece and for a murder ballad with so much potential, it lacks some development. The score is what carries this show and hats off to Jordan and Nash for creating a masterpiece with that. It’s refreshing to see some female recognition.

Performances must end December 3rd. Book your tickets here:

(Please Note: Kerry Ellis will not be performing in the majority of Friday matinees although will be performing in the matinees on Friday 18th November 2016 and Friday 25th November 2016. Kerry Ellis will not be performing on Wednesday 16th November 2016 or Thursday 17th November 2016. The role will be played by Natalie McQueen)

Pictures: © Marc Brenner

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