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REVIEW - LIZZIE | HOPE MILL THEATRE, MANCHESTER | 08/09/2023


lizzie musical art work

all about theatre five star review

Lizzie is a true crime rock musical by Steven Cheslik, Tim Maner & Alan Steven Hewitt. The musical first opened at the Living Theatre in New York in 2009, there has since been over 100 productions in 10 countries and in 6 languages. The first ever UK production of the show is currently taking place at the Hope Mill theatre in Manchester and is directed and choreographed by William Whelton.


Lizzie musical production shot

The musical tells the story of the real life historical figure Lizzie Bowden, Lizzie lived in Fall River Massachusetts with her older sister Emma, father Andrew and Stepmother Abby. In the summer of 1892 Lizzie was accused of the brutal axe murder of her father and step mother but was acquitted of there murders in June 1893. The Borden murders and trial received widespread publicity at the time and to this day it remains a topic in American popular culture, it has inspired several movies and even a chilling nursery rhyme.


lizzie musical production photo

The story of Lizzie has four protagonists Lizzie, Emma Lizzies older sister, Bridget Sullivan the Borden's Maid and Alice Russell Lizzie's friend and neighbour. The musical looks at what could have motivated Lizzie to commit these chilling murders and tells the story of a woman who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her father. We also learn that Lizzie's step mother had convinced Lizzie's father to change his will so that if he died first she would inherit everything and Lizzie and her sister would get nothing. In the musical these are the things which push Lizzie over the edge and cause her to murder her father and stepmother.


lizzie production shot

The musical doesn't have much dialogue in it and relies on the songs to tell the story, I think the musical actually does this really well and I found it really easy to follow the story through the songs. This isn't always the case for me with sung through musicals and I often struggle to understand what's going on but with this musical the songs are so well written that I didn't have a problem.

I thought the opening number "House of Bowden" set the musical up perfectly giving you some background on the characters and the story and I thought it was a really good opening number.

One of my favourite things about the musical is its musical numbers, the songs are so good that I can't even pick a favourite I just love all of them and I've been listening to the soundtrack constantly since seeing the show. I just wish there was a soundtrack with this current cast because this cast's voices together is phenomenal.


lizzie production shot

The set designed by Andrew Exeter is quite simple, obviously the Hope Mill theatre is quite small so you've got limited space for a set but what they've done with the space they have I thought worked really well. The set looks like an old barn and when you walked in to the auditorium it was very dark with pigeons perched on what looked like wooden beams around the auditorium, this made the space feel very creepy. The lighting also by Andrew Exeter and the video design by Dan Light work perfectly along with the set design to create this creepy dark atmosphere that the show required. The Costumes for the show were designed by Rachel Tansey and they represented the time period in which Lizzie lived so were reminiscent of old time America dresses from the 1890's, however for the finale they wear clothing more reminiscent of a girl rock band from the current day.


 musical production shot

I have to say the cast for Lizzy the musical is absolutely phenomenal they've picked an amazing cast, all four women in this were perfectly cast for their roles.


Lauren Drew as Lizzie was just spectacular she really did an amazing job and gave a truly mesmerizing performance, she played Lizzie to Perfection I couldn't imagine anyone else playing Lizzie other than Lauren now. Drew's vocals were Outstanding she really is a Powerhouse, she was just fantastic.


Shekinah McFarlane played Lizzy's older sister Emma and again what a Powerhouse

vocalist her vocals were insane and her voice worked really well with the Rocky pop score, again a great performance.

Maiya Quansah-Breed played Alice, Alice is a more quieter character she's quite softly spoken and I thought Maiya fit the role perfectly. Maiya's voice really suited the song "if you knew" she's got really sweet sounding voice which I think worked perfectly for this song.

Mary Barclay played Bridget the maid and I have to say she was fantastic in this role. Bridget is the comic relief in this very intense dark themed musical, she brings the humour to the show. I loved Barclay Irish accent which she put on and her comic timing was just excellent, some of her facial expressions really made me laugh out loud, she was so funny I couldn't think of anyone else better for the role.


lizzie production photos

I left this show wanting to come back and see it again, I've never seen anything like it it was quite different to musicals I've seen before. I can see this show being compared to six because it's an all female cast, it's based on a historical story and when the four women all sing together they do actually use handheld microphones and look like they could be in a band. They even do a megamix at the end of the show which they encourage you to get your phones out and film.

I think this show could do really well when it heads out on tour, I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't recommend this show enough. this was definitely a five star show for me.


Lizzie is on at the Hope Mill Theatre until 30th September, you can purchase tickets by clicking on the button below.





If you would like to learn more about the Lizzie musical you can do so by clicking the button below





Photo Credit - Pamela Raith










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