Entertainment » Music

Murder Ballad - Original Cast Recording

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Tuesday Jun 18, 2013
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As of this writing, the Union Square Theatre is presenting the new chamber musical, "Murder Ballad: A New Musical." With a book by Julia Jordan ("Sarah, Plain and Tall," "The Mice"), and lyrics by both Jordan and composer Julianna Nash, this four-person rock musical bills itself as a "cautionary tale" about a modern-day love triangle gone awry. The strong cast features Tony-Award winner Karen Olivo ("West Side Story," "In the Heights") as Sara, the young housewife and disenchanted mother, her loving husband, played with brutal honesty by John Ellison Conlee ("The Full Monty," "1776"), and her lover, eerily portrayed by Will Swenson ("Priscilla: Queen of the Desert," "Hair").

As the title indicates, someone does not survive the evening’s story, and we are assisted through the story by Rebecca Naomi Jones as the Narrator, a present-day Rod Serling who paints the various moments that guide us through the characters’ struggles. The story is straight-forward: Sara (Olivo) settles down with Michael (Conlee) after her relationship with Tom (Swenson) ends due to his inability to settle down with her. However, after ten years and a daughter with Michael, Sara’s increasing restlessness leads her to call Tom, and the old feelings are reignited, which are subsequently discovered by Michael. All boils to a head, and, well... no spoilers here.

The soundtrack for "Murder Ballad: A New Musical" is produced by Michael Croiter on the YellowSound Label and features a five-piece rock band led by Justin Levine on both keyboards and guitar. The music is interestingly varied in scope, while staying reliably in the guitar-rock vain. All four performers are comfortable in this groove, with the women channeling their best "Rent" stylings (Olivo and Jones both have performed in the Jonathan Larson musical), and Swenson’s material, is reminiscent of "Next to Normal."

Though there are 39 tracks listed on the recording, the album still times in at a manageable 80 minutes, and is comprehensive in containing the entire work for those who can’t get to the Union Square to check out the current production.

"Murder Ballad: A New Musical (World Premiere Cast Recording)"
Karen Olivo / Will Swenson / Julia Jordan
CD and digital formats
YellowSound Label

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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