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Review: Lizzie The Musical at Hope Mill Theatre ‘explores the depths of true crime with punk rock passion’

In the realm of musical theatre, "Lizzie The Musical" stands out as an audacious and thrilling performance.
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This gripping production takes the audience on a dark journey into the world of Lizzie Borden, the infamous accused murderer who shocked late 19th-century Fall River, Massachusetts, with her alleged axe murders of her father and stepmother.

With elements of rage, sex, betrayal, and bloody murder, “Lizzie The Musical” is a true crime punk rock extravaganza that marries history and punk rock into a riveting spectacle.

Lizzie The Musical

The heart of “Lizzie The Musical” lies in its exploration of Lizzie Borden’s complex psyche and her potential motivations for committing such gruesome acts.

The narrative delves into various factors, including the looming loss of inheritance, a harrowing history of sexual abuse, a life stifled by societal oppression, and the torment of madness.

This layered storytelling keeps audiences on the edge of their seats, eager to uncover the mysteries behind the infamous crimes.

A Soundtrack That Ignites: Punk Rock Passion on Stage

The soundtrack of “Lizzie The Musical” is nothing short of electrifying. Composed by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, Tim Maner and Alan Stevens Hewitt, the music exudes raw energy with its driving rhythms and gritty lyrics.

All-Female Ensemble: Empowering Women in the Spotlight

A noteworthy aspect of this production is its all-female cast, comprising Lizzie, her older sister Emma, maid Bridget, and neighbour Alice. This casting choice adds depth and uniqueness to the narrative, offering a fresh perspective on a story traditionally dominated by male figures.

Accompanying this powerhouse cast is an all-female band that amplifies the feminist message, showcasing that women can command both the stage and the punk rock genre with unapologetic authority.

The Company of LIZZIE The Musical | Pamela Raith Photography

Vocal Brilliance: Powerful Performances that Resonate

The cast of “Lizzie The Musical” delivers standout vocal performances that both showcase their vocal prowess and breathe life into their characters. Lizzie, portrayed by Lauren Drew, balances vulnerability with ferocity, captivating the audience with her presence.

Emma, portrayed by Shekinah McFarlane acts with subtlety and strength, which offers a compelling contrast to Lizzie’s character.

Bridget played by Mairi Barclay brings humour and a sense of playfulness to a dark storyline alongside Alice played by Maiya Quansah-Breed, who contributes both their unique voices and perspectives to the musical, weaving an emotional tapestry that draws audiences deeper into the narrative.

The staging and set design of “Lizzie The Musical” transport the audience to the bleak setting of 19th-century Fall River, Massachusetts.

A minimalistic design that is set within the beams of the old mill, coupled with stark lighting, period-style props and a lot of fake pigeons, creates an atmosphere that enhances the performance’s impact.

The simplicity of the stage allows the actors to shine while evoking the eerie and oppressive ambience of the Borden barn and household.

Lauren Drew as Lizzie in LIZZIE The Musical 1 | Pamela Raith Photography

A Deep Dive into Darkness: Complex Characters Explored

What sets “Lizzie The Musical” apart is its unflinching exploration of its characters.

The production fearlessly examines the darker aspects of Lizzie’s life, including allegations of sexual abuse and the suffocating environment in which she lived.

These themes are treated with sensitivity and depth, adding layers of psychological complexity to the narrative. Audiences grapple with questions of guilt, empathy, and the blurred line between victim and perpetrator.

The narrative structure of “Lizzie The Musical” starts with the trial and then flashes back to the past showing how and where things went wrong. In doing so this challenges the audience to piece together the puzzle of what drove Lizzie to commit such a gruesome act.

For True Crime Enthusiasts and More: A Must-See Blend of Genres

In summary, “Lizzie The Musical” is an exciting and captivating production that defies traditional boundaries in musical theatre.

With its all-female cast and electrifying punk rock soundtrack, everyone who goes to see this musical will be on their feet for a curtain call.
This UK-built version of the show is in Manchester for a month then it will tour the UK, making it a must-see for people all across the country but especially for fans of true crime, horror, and musicals alike.

Don’t miss the opportunity to witness this dark and powerful exploration of rage, sex, betrayal, and bloody murder, book your tickets here.

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