Tonight I saw an amazing piece of theatre starring some of my good friends and talented peers in the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music’s, Music Theatre Program. Murder Ballad, a collaboration between Playhouse Square and the Baldwin Wallace Music Theatre Program, premiered in Cleveland at the Lab Theatre on Playhouse Square. It is one of the few immersive theatre pieces Cleveland has seen to date and has hopefully started a trend. This is a fairly new music theatre piece that played Off-Broadway last summer. It’s a story of a twisted love triangle focused around a New Yorker named Sara who is torn between her husband and her passionate affair with her ex. The story is told by the narrator who we find out in the end was responsible for the actual "murder." The score was written by a musician named Juliana Nash and is a sung through very rock driven show. The music is very New York grunge and works very well to tell this dirty gritty story of love and betrayal.
As happens with most of the shows Vicky directs downtown, Murder Ballad was double cast. I can guarantee that both casts gave killer performances (pun intended) but the one I saw was out of this world. My friends and music theatre classmates, Keri, Zach, Nyla and Anthony made it feel like every person in the theatre was looking into their souls all while sitting at a real East Village dive bar. There are several tables set up on the floor of the theatre while the rest of the seats are all around the perimeter, making it both immersive and in the round. The few audience members who get to sit at the tables are completely involved with the story meaning the cast sings and moves around in between and on the tables. There's even several instances where the characters of Sara and Tom lay down their iPhones so the audience can scroll through the scandalous texts they're sending back and forth. I love the immersive theatre experiences and hope more new productions are made with the same concept. Murder Ballad was sexy, gritty, dark, and palpable and another home run for Victoria Bussert and the BWMT legacy.