Monday, August 15, 2016

reviews - LIZZIE - A/C Theatre Company

Heather Fallon, Lauren McKay, and Megan Moylan
Photo by Redline Designs
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through August 27th.

"The law may have declared her not guilty, but legend and tradition think otherwise. So, too, does the uncompromising, in-your-face, rock musical, Lizzie. ...a four-woman, hard core rock musical that assumes all the rumors and gossip you’ve ever heard revolving around the story are true....Under Alan Ruch’s musical direction, the show may have a pulsating rock score with an economy of dialog but writers Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, Tim Maner and Alan Stevens Hewitt have done their homework when it comes to rumor and plot...there are the rumors of abuse, incest and even a lesbian tryst....Musically, Lizzie is a powerhouse production that gives each of the four performers an opportunity at one time or another to let rip and go to town with some high-powered, passionate vocals. Because of the theatre’s intimate setting and the close-proximity of the audience to the stage, there’s a surprising and welcomed clarity to the lyrics... When the four talented women stand in line behind their mics, facing the audience and belting at full blast, Lizzie looks less like a musical and more like an interpretive, ninety-minute rock concert. ...A/C Theatre Company’s aim is to give local Phoenix audiences an opportunity to enjoy contemporary musicals not always seen in the valley. This is the group’s third production. On the evidence of Saturday night’s sold-out performance, with Lizzie and these four enormously engaging talents behind the mic stands, the company has not only chosen the consummate vehicle to show what can be achieved on a restricted budget and a small cast, it’s upped its game. Like those forty whacks, Lizzie comes at you at full speed with the power of a dangerous weapon and knocks you right out of your Hades Theatre seat.  It’s a literal blast." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"“...Thanks to (the) nursery rhyme, the tale of double murderess Lizzie Borden and her infamous ax is incredibly well known. But there is much more to Lizzie's story and creators Steven Cheslik-deMeyer, Tim Maner, and Alan Stevens Hewitt have crafted a rock opera, appropriately titled Lizzie, that masterfully gets us inside of Lizzie's head and lays out the motives for the murders. A/C Theatre Company presents the Arizona premiere of this musical with a sensational cast of four women, spirited direction and a smoking band. It is a rip-roaring good time. ...the score a perfect blend of driving rock numbers, character driven duets and stirring ballads. The plot follows Lizzie's plight and the aftermath of the murders in a simple, linear fashion and Cheslik-deMeyer, Maner, and Hewitt intertwine the facts, rumors and speculation of Borden's plight to present a fascinating and thought provoking study. The cast of four is exceptional with each woman inhabiting their role with a deep conviction and their singing vocals soar and throb with a blistering rage to the driving beat of the music. Megan Moylan is stunning as Lizzie....As her sister, Emma, Lauren McKay is fierce, strong and manipulative with a voice that growls....Cassie Chilton is superb as Lizzie's next door neighbor, and alleged lover, Alice. ...As the Borden's housemaid Bridget, Heather Fallon's double takes, questioning looks, spot-on comic delivery and lush vocals make this supporting character into a crowd pleaser. Tim Shawver and Kim Richard's direction keeps the show moving in a fast pace yet allows the more traditional musical theatre songs and sweet moments in the story to not be steamrolled over by the heavy metal numbers....(Greg) Hynes' set design presents almost everything at an angle, with two side stages, the railings, and the two door frames all skewed. I'm not sure if it was Hynes' intent but it plays into and echoes the slanted and twisted facts and rumors behind Lizzie's tale. Alan Ruch's music direction achieves a stunning wall of sound from the six piece band and the rich harmonies of the cast. ...A heavy rock opera like Lizzie may not appeal to those traditional musical theatre fans who love Oklahoma! yet scoff at a modern rock musical like Rent. With A/C's stellar cast and impressive creative elements, I highly urge everyone, even the skeptics, to give it a go."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"...a jarring success that haunts still, days later. With four blazing female cast members the alleged Lizzie Borden murder story in rock opera form fixed an accusatory social glare opening weekend. A riveted Hardes Theatre audience in downtown Phoenix didn't dare blink. What's becoming A/C's signature M.O. of super-talented, compact casts that rock edgy musicals is filling a previously vacant niche, judging by the over-flowing theatre on Saturday night. The meaty and sometimes unsavory plot detailed the historic double-homicide of Lizzie Borden's father and stepmother for which Borden was tried and acquitted in 1892....a bewildered, childlike Lizzie (Megan Moylan) sang a heart-wrenching ballad ...The music allowed harsh, head-bangin' truths that previous eras would not permit.
...Cassie Chilton as neighbor Alice tread the fence beautifully between morally prim and sexually adventurous. Protecting and then betraying her friend as she balanced rich contralto against throaty rock phrases depicted well her inner-conflict....After the contemporary melodies and volume get cranked up, there's no stopping the sly fun (Heather) Fallon dishes out. ...Moylan handled those impossible complexities with churning sensitivity. Condemn or pity her, but feeling her anguished predicament is not an option Moylan allowed. Trapped by her clothing, century and suffocating father, only 21st century, black-eye-lined, emo-angst and rage could aptly free her...." Jennifer Haaland (click here to read the complete review)

"...“Lizzie,”... tells the story of accused ax murderer Lizzie Borden and the trial of the 19th century as a riot-grrrl rock concert....A/C delivers a raucous, provocative winner ...Megan Moylan,...plays the title role, and though she be but little, she is fierce as a droll femme fatale smoldering with barely suppressed rage. Playing big sister Emma, Lauren McKay blazes just as bitterly...The excellent all-woman cast also features Cassie Chilton as Lizzie’s neighbor and forbidden-love interest as well as Heather Fallon... as the sly Irish housemaid, Bridget. ..Co-directors Kim Richard and Tim Shawver make effective use of a minimalist bare-wood set .....sound engineer Elena Perez, whose perfectly balanced mix delivers nightclub energy without sacrificing clarity. Now, you might think that would be a given, but when it comes to rock musicals — and least in this particular theater town — it’s actually a rare pleasure."  - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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