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“Lizzie” Rocks and Rolls Her Murder Charges at The Human Race Theatre Company

Review by Raechel Lombardo of “Lizzie”: Human Race Theatre

After being fortunate enough to see it on a spectacular opening night, I want everyone to take advantage of any available seating for The Human Race Theatre Company’s “Lizzie”.  If you are a fan of musicals, historical creepy murders, and/or concerts of a hippie or rock genre, you do not want to miss out on seeing this musical!  “Lizzie” is a delightful concoction of a rock musical story telling of the infamous Borden Family murders, brewing into its perfected unique Goth-wiccan-rock star form.

This show, directed by Jammie Cordes with music direction by Jay Brunner, is a perfect symphony of sweet and sinister, playful and dark, true to the tale while risky and creative in artistic direction.  The music (by Steven Cheslik-Demeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt, who also wrote the lyrics along with Tim Maner) is simply incredible, every song having something different and striking to offer, and I sure hope there’s a recording for this performance I can get my hands on.  Who knew that this odd combination of story and aesthetic could be such a hit!

The set (by scenic designer Ray Zupp) is a fantastic execution of nineteenth century home décor meets a gothic rock concert, including all the standard concert effects.  Be sure to look for certain references to the Lizzie Borden original story, also very tastefully added in and honored.

The costumes (designed by Liz Bourgeois) were a delicious blend of the time period, steam punk, multiple genres of rock music, and witchy vibes.  Bourgeois did an incredible job to not only get the math right on all of these factors, but incorporating the characters’ different personalities, styles, and demographics.

A show can only be such a success if it is written in a way to do so, and if it is executed beautifully.  Lizzie has certainly been formulated for such success, the set, props, lighting (John Rensel), and costumes have most definitely given the story, music, and script (book by Tim Maner) a place to flourish, but it is the people who make up that home that have to be strong enough to care for it.  There are only three actresses in this production but all have been totally certified as rock stars, in my opinion, having to perform to that level of energy every single night. There is running, jumping, head-banging, screaming, crawling–there’s so much going on and you take it all in.

Natalie Bird (Emma) brings on this Black Velvet aesthetic while in black leather as the older protective sister who is fed up with her mother—I mea–father’s wife–her style and voice lending that somewhat 1980’s charisma to the rock and roll melting pot.

Michaella Waickman (Alice) has an evanescent quality about her that gives that important splash of pink and sweet to this show that could easily be suffocated in parameters of only anger and bleakness.  She proved her character vital to the story, not for the reason that she was a real person in the event, but that she brings a sense of hope when it seems there is none.

Leslie Goddard (Bridget) clearly has a lot of fun playing the spunky, urban Irish lass, and she plays it well without making her a hokey misplaced relief.  She recognizes that her character is another genre added to the mix that is key to remember: that this story did happen and has roots in that part of American history, and should have that nineteenth century Irish folktale quality.

Deánna Giulietti (Lizzie) was a force to be reckoned with.  From the moment she got on the stage to the very end, she commanded our attention to listen to her story and feel every bit of her pain and hope, even if you felt uncomfortable or didn’t really want to interact so much (yes, she jumped down and got in my face and it was exhilarating).  Lizzie would be pleased with Ms. Giulietti’s rendition of her life and emotions.

I truly think you will get something out of this show, even if not all of those components are your cup of tea, something will surely stick with you. “Lizzie” is playing at the Human Race Theatre through June 30th, with tickets at their website https://www.humanracetheatre.org..