Murder Ballad is a sung through rock musical by Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash. The show tells the tale of Sara (played by the understudy Natalie McQueen when I attended) and her affair with ex-partner Tom (played by Ramin Karimloo) whilst married to Michael (played by Norman Bowman). When Sara tries to call it off the levels of Tom’s obsession is revealed and a murder takes place. Of whom and by whom I will not reveal.
The story line of love, adultery and obsession is one we have heard before however the cast and some of the numbers make up for this. The cast are a stellar cast and even despite Kerry Ellis being off and Natalie McQueen having big boots to fill she more then delivers. Her rock belt is perfectly suited to Sara’s numbers and her spiral into self-destruct is convincing.
Karimloo is perfect as Tom, his confident swagger at the start of the show and of course his good looks and incredible rock voice means you can easily understand how Sara ends up back in his arms. Bowman embodies the nice guy brilliantly, turning a blind eye to the affair until he can no longer deny it. Making up the quartet is Hamilton- Barritt who is the unflinching and ever present narrator. Her voice is designed for numbers such as these with a unique quality to it and her presence is steeped in intrigue.
The music is the selling point of this show and some of the numbers such as the title song ‘Murder Ballad,’ ‘You Belong to Me’ and ‘Clubs and Diamonds,’ I have been listening to on repeat since I saw the show. They have the perfect blend of rock with a sinister quality. Some of the other numbers however are forgettable although necessary to move the story along.
Murder Ballad works well in a smaller space however I would have liked the venue to be even more intimate for it to be even stronger. The elevated stage raised the performers above some of the audience and I would have liked them to have been the same level as the audience just to allow the story and the raw emotion to literally be in the audiences face.
Murder Ballad is perfect for fans of rock musicals such as American Idiot, Spring Awakening and Rent, in fact one scene in Murder Ballad echoed ‘Light my Candle’ from Rent somewhat, right down to Sara bending over for Michael to check out her ass.
The cast along with some of the bigger numbers are worth the trip to the Arts alone.
Murder Ballad runs until the 3rd December at the Arts Theatre.