We all know the jump rope rhyme "Lizzie Borden took an axe/ Gave her mother forty whacks./ When she saw what she had done/ Gave her father forty-one."
Lizzie Borden is an American icon, an institution even. In anticipation of TUTS Underground's production of the rock musical Lizzie, Houston audiences can pick up advance copies of Lizzie (Original Studio Cast Recording) now at Theatre Under the Stars' Encore Store. After hearing this dual disc concept album, I simply cannot wait to see Lizzie, and here are 10 reasons you should be excited as well:
10. It's Listener-Friendly
Yes, Lizzie is a hard rocking musical, but its score is hard rock through the lens of musical theater. You have your requisite undulating guitar riffs, distortion and thudding percussion.But every word is sung carefully and thoughtfully. Some have more force than others, but from what I've heard on the cast recording, these women aren't screaming the lyrics. The music alternates between radio-friendly, commercially minded rock anthems to rock ballads. In other words, it's catchy as hell and will leave you humming or singing several of the hooks.
9. Anachronism Is Fun
So electric guitars and rock music didn't exist in 1892, but who cares? Michael Friedman and Alex Timbers made President Andrew Jackson into an Emo Rock God in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, so it's really only fitting that Steven Cheslik-deMeyer, Tim Maner, and Alan Stevens Hewitt turn Lizzie Borden into a killer rock n' roll queen. Move over Roxie Hart; musical theater has a new and much more interesting murderess to obsess over.
8. Something New
No, this is not the World Premiere of Lizzie, but it's pretty darn close. Lizzie was first presented at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's Festival of New Musicals in 2010. Then the Village Theatre in Issaquah, Washington further developed it. The musical was recently presented as a collaboration between PlayhouseSquare and Baldwin-Wallace College. However, the TUTS Underground production is Lizzie's first major production and a regional premiere.
Watch this video to see the sizzle reel from the PlayhouseSquare and Baldwin-Wallace College presentation of Lizzie:
7. It's Affordable
Regular tickets start at $24 and go as high as $39 before fees. Special VIP seats in the "Jury Box" pit cost $60 before fees. These cabaret-style seats in the pit also allow you to enjoy a selection of gourmet bar mixed drinks in a souvenir TUTS tumbler with a complimentary drink voucher valid for a beverage of your choice. For $125 a ticket before fees, you can attend the Lizzie Law & Order Night. This ticket grants you access to a pre-show cocktail reception in the Hobby Center's Founder's Club featuring an open bar and hors d' oeuvres, a VIP Orchestra Level seat, and a post-show talkback with criminal judges, lawyers, and legal experts who will be discussing the Lizzie Borden trial.
6. Murder, Betrayal, Incest, And Did I Say Murder?
The people of the United States have long loved bizarre court cases, killers, and criminals. Whether we're enjoying a documentary on Ed Gein, watching Bonnie & Clyde, or skipping rope to the Lizzie Borden rhyme, an interest in the macabre true stories of homegrown American violence fascinates us. We even like the fictional varieties offered by the various Law & Order and CSI shows. When it comes down to it, the musical Lizzie is no exception. Audiences will be get their fill of the dark and grisly with the production's implied incestuous rape, a hot and cold sexual tension between Lizzie and her neighbor Alice, a sexual bribe, the beheading of Lizzie's pet pigeons, and the gruesome murders of Andrew and Abby Borden.
5. Awesome Altos
Listening to the studio cast album, it is clear that Lizzie redefines diva. It seems that in the world of music the soprano is the ruler, but that is definitely not the case in Lizzie. That's not to say that there aren't some incredible soprano riffs, but the best melodies, chord progressions, and runs are reserved for the alto register. This makes the music pack a distinctively earthly wallop and offers audiences an aural landscape that is intriguing, at times gorgeous, and entirely unforgettable.
4. It's Novel and Innovative
When it comes to in depth details about the production, the lips at TUTS Underground are tightly sealed; however, I have been promised that Houston audiences have never seen a show quite like this before. I know the production done by PlayhouseSqaure and Baldwin-Wallace College used a Gallagher-esque staging for the murder of the Bordens.
3. Carrie Cimma
Carrie Cimma is reprising her role as Bridget, the Borden family maid, for this production. Cimma has been involved with previous workshops of the musical, she plays Bridget on the studio cast album, and she even earned a Drama Desk Award nomination for the role. On the album, her voice is incredible.
2. Carrie Manolakos
Seriously, have you seen this?
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Carrie Manolakos is reprising her role as Lizzie Borden. Like Cimma, she has been involved in previous workshops of the musical and she sings Lizzie on the recording.
1. Unconventional Women
This female centric rock musical presents audiences with four strong willed women who are ready to exercise their own brands of power over the situations and people in their lives. Some attempts crash and burn, others soar. Lizzie poignantly turns the conventional notion of the complacent, docile female on its head.
Lizzie plays the Zilkha Hall from October 10-20, 2013. Performances are Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 5 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. For more information and tickets, visit http://www.tutsunderground.com or call (713) 558-8887.