Murder Ballad: A New Musical (West End) Review
Kerry Ellis – Sara
Ramin Karimloo – Tom
Victoria Hamilton-Barritt – Narrator
Norman Bowman – Michael
Venue: Arts Theatre, London
Date: Thursday 6th October
Set in New York City, Murder Ballad is a rock musical where the audience is taken on a journey of love, lust, passion and desire. Those things are never simple though, love hurts! Sara and Tom had a very passionate relationship but when it ends badly they don’t see each other again until 10 years later and they pick up where they left off. The problem with that? Well Sara is married to Michael and they have a daughter.
She is willing to risk it all for the passion and feel of the man that got away all those years ago. Sara and Tom cannot keep their hands off each other in some rather racy moments. The passion feels real between Ellis and Karimloo, so much so that I felt it was wrong to be watching them. Now that has to be a huge compliment to the performances! Total pervy comment coming up as well, he has an amazing body, yes fantastic and he gets to show it off a few times which was just great!
The leading four are extremely strong and have amazing voices which are shown off in a few different ways and styles throughout the around 85 minute running time (without an interval) with only brief moments off stage. I really enjoyed and liked the style of the music, but feel that some additional dialogue to fill in some gaps in the plot would have helped the show as a whole. It is a completely sung musical, I hope that makes sense. Everything is sung to music from start to finish.
The main problem with the show is that it builds up and builds up to an event, it happens and well then ends. Like that’s it finished over, I just think it needed that little bit more. As the actors are truly incredible, honestly what a collaboration of voices. Not one weak link in any of the four. Compliment each other very well and brilliant that they have gone for it in this New Musical on its UK Premiere having first appeared on Broadway in 2013. I had listened to the Broadway cast recording after buying a ticket late last week in preparation and the style of music really is my type of thing. Not really sure how I imagined it though, but it was tricky to follow at times.
It was great to see Kerry Ellis a different style having seen her in Wicked a few years ago now, she seems totally at home and comfortable with the rock style and in this intimate venue gets to really show off her vocals, which are very impressive.
Norman Bowman has to go through a full range of emotions in his singing parts and really makes you jump towards the end with the anger and high intensity he has in his voice. Really special to be able to do that whilst singing.
Victoria Hamition-Barritt as the Narrator also had the chance to show off her vocal range from start to finish. Telling the story (if you can keep up) and setting the scenes.
Ramin Karimloo is another performer I have seen before, he was Phantom when I first saw Phantom of the Opera and I really being blown away by him then and this was no different. He has such a stage presence and is great to watch! That voice.
I guess overall the incredible performances and vocals are why it will be worth seeing this show, especially in such a small theatre when they are more than experienced in the huge venues not only in the West End but on Broadway too. The final thing I would like to say about Murder Ballad the Musical would be that it is totally off the wall and something different.