Friday, March 1

Murder Ballad – Forum Theatre, Stockport

The Northern Premier of this new musical originally performed in New York in 2012 and moved to the West End in 2016. Directed by Paul Wilson and assisted by Lucy Worthington.

Murder Ballard is the story of a love triangle set in New York in the 1980s and is told in the format of a one act rock musical lasting about 80 minutes. Like all love triangles, this one goes wrong in a most spectacular manner. As my mother used to say, “It’ll all end in tears!” and it certainly does.

Sara (played in a very sensual way by Heather Schofield, taking on the role played by Kerry Ellis in the West End version of the show) falls for two different men. Firstly, there is bad boy Tom (Matt Corrigan), the owner of the Kings Club bar, with whom Sara experiences the excitement she craves, until he gets bored and leaves her, so she opts for a quieter life and the domestic security offered her by the more reliable Michael (Nick Ward), whom she marries and has a baby girl with, Francesca Jane (known as Frankie by all). This life of domestic bliss soon begins to pale for Sara, and she longs for the excitement of her younger years spent with Tom. Not unexpectedly, he returns into the couple’s life and from then on events take a predictable and inevitable turn and a conclusion which not all the cast survive. The piece is held together the descriptive lyrics of the Narrator (Selina Adams).

This being a new and relatively unfamiliar production, it required a lot of concentration to follow the storyline, especially as there was no script as such, and it was all sung. It helped that all 4 cast members were excellent singers with a great deal of experience in local musical productions. What I particularly liked was the clear diction from all the singers, I could hear and understand everything that was sung. It was a shame that during the latter part of the show one of the microphones developed a bit of a crackle, which became quite distracting; hopefully this will have been corrected in time for the next performance. Although the music lacked a bit of variety, the live band was ably led by Musical Director Ceri Graves. The staging was done well, with tables representing the Kings Club and members of the audience sitting alongside the cast. For me, the highlight of the show was the fight scene towards the end, which was brilliantly choreographed by Adam Urey and spectacularly executed by Matt and Nick.

This production has been well put together by Paul Wilson and his team and I would recommend a viewing if you are looking for something different from the usual type of musical theatre experience.

Reviewer: David S Clarke                                          

Reviewed: 24th March 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★