Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lizzie Borden

Photo: Carl Skutsch

The songs in this new rock musical are set in heavy-metal modes, but little about the score screams "genre." It's loud, but never painfully or confusingly so, and it's edgy, with some gloomy imagery, but in essence it's comprised of simply wonderful tunes, with satisfying crunch, engaging and well-crafted lyrics, and bright (okay, dark) pop hooks. Fortunately the sound designer (Jamie McElhinney) keeps the levels sensible, mics the singers well, and mixes everything properly, so one seldom misses a lyric. Even more fortunately, the four-woman cast is absolutely stellar, wonderful actors with clear, powerful voices that cut through the tight band's rock bombast without trouble. There are no characters but the four women: Lizzie herself (a supremely confident and perfectly fetching Jenny Fellner); her older sister Emma Borden (a sharp and funny Lisa Birnbaum, who has a powerful alto); her regally coiffed but passionate friend Alice (a radiant Marie-France Arcilla); and the maid, Bridget (a fierce, punked-out Carrie Cimma). The choice to leave out the elder Bordens seems a little odd at first, but its wisdom quickly becomes apparent as we're plunged into the closed, claustrophobic world of the sisters' half of the divided household. An early song between Lizzie and Alice takes place in the barn, where Lizzie escapes her hellish home life to tend her beloved pigeons. Artfully lit and shadowed by lighting designer Christian DeAngelis, it is beautifully, movingly performed, as is most everything in this sharp-as-an-axe show. Read the full review.

1 comment:

Wendy Caster said...

Glad to see you also loved Lizzie. I have only one disagreement with you--I think its length is perfect. Wendy