As a vehicle for the combined – and considerable talents – of Kerry Ellis, Ramin Karimloo, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and Norman Bowman, Murder Ballad is made to order.
In this sung-through rock musical, Hamilton-Barritt plays the jaded narrator (and some key ancillary characters) to the story of Ellis’ New Yorker Sara caught between her muscly and menacing ex-boyfriend (Karimloo) and her dependable husband and father of her child (Bowman). Why are some women always drawn to the bad boys? Well, if they all had physiques like Karimloo does here… and, wow, the sex scenes are seriously hot. Crimes of passion indeed.
There are some lovely songs (Juliana Nash) – I particularly liked “Little by Little” and the gentle “Promises” – and they are delivered with gusto by these four West End superstars.
From the beginning, as the title promises, we know that someone is going to die, but Julia Jordan‘s book keeps us guessing until the end the exact identities of both victim and perpetrator as well as the method. The rock band – onstage throughout the action – are fantastic too and rightly come to join the actors for a killer curtain call encore.
The UK premiere production of Murder Ballad, directed by Sam Yates and moodily lit by David Plater, is clearly a hit with audiences. It was a full house on the night I attended, and extended booking long before the first performance. I’ve rounded up what critics have said below and other recent features, plus be sure to enter the #StageFaves competition to win Murder Ballad tickets and a chance to meet Kerry Ellis after the show.
— Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) October 4, 2016