It’s not often you get to be part of an exclusive group who get to see a sneak peak of a new show. So when the MTAS admins got the chance to go and see Murder Ballad in rehearsals and then interview the cast afterwards, we couldn’t believe our luck. We can’t give too much away at the moment but it’s safe to say that this show and its cast will send tingles down your spine.
The Musical Theatre Appreciation Society has existed for quite some time now, but never have we experienced anything like this before. To explain in a bit more detail…
Musical theatre has been rather slow to the scene when it comes to social media. Yes, we know shows have a twitter account as do most of the actors we go and see, but there isn’t much to link the two together with their audiences and fans unless they do it themselves. This however is something which appears to be changing. The invitation we received was for an event which would only see people from different social media platforms involved with theatre attending. This (to my knowledge) was something of a first – to invite a group of bloggers to preview a show.The fun part about this however was how this meant that the majority of the people there were huge MT fans and were just as excited as we were. This was also a really nice thing to reflect on as it means The Musical Theatre Appreciation Society must therefore be seen as a contributing factor to the growing social interest in theatre and new shows, which is an exciting time to be a part of this group.
Anyway, back to the afternoon of Wednesday 7th September…The Pigeon Loft is a small rehearsal space above the Arts Theatre near Leicester Square tube station in Central London. It is a small and unassuming room but today it was buzzing with excitement. As you walk in there are mood boards on every wall covered with images and newspaper articles, the floor is taped up to mark out the dimensions of the stage. And yet, sat calmly in the middle of the room is one of the strongest casts you will see in a musical this year, waiting to show us what they have been working on and give us a sneak preview.Murder Ballad is a different kind of show because it’s very open and bare. The cast is only four members with a whole ensemble of only 6. It’s a story told by a narrator about how three people are caught in a love triangle. It’s about passion and … murder. Book and lyrics by Julia Jordan with music & lyrics by Juliana Nash. It opened Off-Broadway in 2013 to great acclaim. The West End production will star Kerry Ellis, Ramin Karimloo, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and Norman Bowman, with Natalie McQueen and Matthew Harvey as understudies. A truly epic line-up on paper. In real life, the word “epic” can’t even begin to describe how truly amazing the experience of attending one of their rehearsals was.
As we made our way into the rehearsal space, we were greeted by director Sam Yates. The cast seemed very relaxed and confident despite it only being their eighth day of rehearsal. Kerry Ellis in particular seemed very happy to be there as she immediately started to wave enthusiastically at the invitees.
Our sneak preview started by watching this incredible ensemble rehearse a couple of numbers from the show and just to settle into this situation (most of the admin had to pinch themselves a lot to even believe they were in the room). After watching them rehearse we were allowed to turn our cameras on and were given a performance of ‘Built for Longing’, one of the main songs in the show. It’s amazing how powerful four people and a piano can be. There was electricity in the air as all invitees watched and listened in amazement. The performers’ voices filled the room and took our breath away.
Following this performance we went into a Q&A sessions with the cast, where we talked about the appeal of the show, why it is different and relevant for London today and how it is considered unusual to have a story about an affair told from the point of view of the woman.
Throughout the brief selections we got to see, it was made abundantly clear that this show is going to be one of the best new productions in London this year. You simply can’t beat a great musical with a great cast. Don’t miss your chance to see it. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
MTAS Live streamed the whole of the performance and Q&A with the cast, so head over to our Facebook Page to view this. The HD filmed version of the performance is also currently available on our YouTube.
Murder Ballad will play a strictly limited run at The Arts Theatre from 30 September 2016 until 3 December 2016. For tickets and info please visit http://www.murderballadmusical.co.uk or https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk/whats-on/murder-ballad-/
By MTAS admin
Dries Janssens: @DriesJanssens3 & Luke Smith: @lukesmithdj