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LIZZIE the Musical

After reading some spectacular reviews and looking at a brief, but intriguing show description, I jumped at the chance to attend the UK premiere of LIZZIE the Musical – a brand new show on the fringe of the West End at Greenwich Theatre, after a successful run at the Fredericia Teater, Denmark in January 2017.
"LIZZIE is four women fronting a six-piece rock band. LIZZIE is rage, sex, betrayal, and bloody murder. LIZZIE is American mythology set to a blistering rock score. LIZZIE is a new American musical with a sound owing less to Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber than to Bikini Kill, the Runaways, and Heart". - Lizzie Musical UK

Left to right: Jodie Jacobs, Bjørg Gamst, Eden Espinosa and Bleu Woodward
The first assumption I made about this show, having never heard of it or the soundtrack before, is that it is essentially a gothic rock musical. Sitting in my seat, it was clear from the start that the musical numbers would bring the house down, with concert-esque strobe lights flashing in all directions, to the electric guitars scattered about on each side of the stage. The atmosphere and buzz of the theatre, slowly anticipating and waiting for what was in store, really felt like being back at a more intimate version of We Will Rock You. It was evident that the audience would all be rocking out, soon enough. It was also evident that the front row would be in for an interesting night, as ponchos were given out to protect their clothes from the inevitable blood splatters that were to come. After all, the story of the show was inspired by Lizzie Andrew Borden, an American woman, known for her famous trial after being tried and acquitted following rumours that she had killed both her father and stepmother with an axe in 1892. 

The cast consists of four extremely talented bad-ass female powerhouses, who can really belt. I expected all four of them to play multiple characters, however, this was not the case. 
Bjørg Gamst, who starred as the leading role of Lizzie Borden, wowed the audience with her stage prescence and played the part extraordinarily well, with a rawness in her tone that I absolutely adored, and craved to hear again and again. You see her character develop from being naïve and confused about the sexual abuse she receives from her father ("This Is Not Love" - a new favourite musical theatre solo of mine), to a ravenous murderer, not capable of any remorse or regret ("Somebody Will Do Something). It was such a treat to finally get to see Wicked Broadway star Eden Espinosa, who played Lizzie's sister, Emma I. Borden. Her fierceness in the role as the older, more responsible Borden sister ("What the F*ck Now, Lizzie?), and commandment of the stage, had everyone completely mesmerised in awe. "Sweet Little Sister" in act one was definitely Espinosa's time to shine as she blew the roof off, and showed how much vocal stamina she really has.   I thought the character of Alice Russell, one of the Borden's family friends and Lizzie's secret lover, played by Bleu Woodward, gave the show a wonderfully pleasant contrast whenever she was on stage. Most of the songs in LIZZIE are unapologetically 'in-your-face' rock, and even though that's what you go to experience, the more delicately intricate songs sung beautifully by Woodward, (If You Knew) gave the show more emotional depth and warmth. Jodie Jacobs, played the Borden's family Irish maid, Bridget Sullivan, with a lot of tonge-in-cheek humour and incredible wit. Her vocal was exceptional, especially in the opening song "The House of Borden", which helped to set the pace for the rest of the production.

Jodie Jacobs (Bridget Sullivan), Bjørg Gamst (Lizzie Borden), Eden Espinosa (Emma I. Borden), Bleu Woodward (Alice Russell)

A particular highlight for me was when the quartet sung 'Questions, Questions', a 'rock chick' style number, swapping microphones to each other whilst still singing and making it look extremely easy. This is the kind of choreography that you imagine a girl band would have. LIZZIE the Musical is a fun and feisty night out, filled with dark humour and gore. If you're into that sort of thing, go and see it now at the
Greenwich Theatre until 12th March 2017 - you won't be disappointed!


Thank you to Theatre Bloggers for my ticket to LIZZIE press night!    

Director: Victoria Bussert
Original Choreography: Gregory Daniels
Musical Director: Martin Bergmann Konge

Music by Steven Cheslik-Demeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt
Lyrics by Steven Cheslik-Demeyer and Tim Maner
Book by Tim Maner
Additional Music by Tim Maner
Additional Lyrics by Alan Stevens Hewitt
Based on an original concept by Steven Cheslik-Demeyer and Tim Maner
Orchestration by Alan Stevens Hewitt

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