Christina Booker, Landon Scholar, Myranda Thomas, & Andrew Newton-Schaftlein. Photo: Timeslip

Murder Ballad

Book by Julia Jordan,
Music by Juliana Nash, Lyrics by Julia Jordan & Juliana Nash
Directed by Remy Sisk

A review by Annette Skaggs

Entire contents are copyright © 2021 by Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved.

If you are like me, I’ve been chomping at the bit for live theater to wake up in Louisville. Slowly and surely our resident companies have been hard at work at bringing their talents back to our stages and for that, I’ve been grateful.

Amid the trials and tribulations that many in the Arts world have had to overcome and adapt to, there have been companies who have unfortunately ceased operations, such as Acting Against Cancer (AAC). But, as the old saying goes, when one door closes, another opens.

Such is the case with the newly formed Time Slip Theatre Company (you may recognize this nod to The Rocky Horror Show). Remy Sisk, who had been associated with the aforementioned AAC since its inception, decided to take a chance and launch this new company. 

In the Playbill I saw many familiar names from the Louisville theater community: Joanna Hite Shelton (Graphic Design), Eric Frantz (Fight Direction), and Jaclyn Lyons (Director/Costume Coordination), not to mention musicians like Julie McKay and Benji Simmons.

So, with production and support staff such as the luminaries above, not to mention the cast that includes Christina Booker (Sara), Myranda Thomas (Narrator), Andrew Newton-Schaftlein (Michael), and Landon Sholar (Tom), it looks like Murder Ballad could be a good time.

And it was.

Performed in the new The Loft at the Biscuit Lounge which sits atop Barry Wooley Designs at the former Old 502 Winery, the setting was the perfect atmosphere for this production.

The stage, as it were, was economical. With a built-in bar that served as Tom’s New York bar and to the left of that a couch complete with a large bookshelf that served both as part of the characters Michael and Sara’s living room and a “wall” for the actors to use as a backstage.

The story is simple, yet engaging, if not a little soap opera-ish. Tom and Sara have a relationship until Sara meets Michael and they fall in love and start a family. Sara gets bored with her life and after reading an article in the paper about her old flame Tom, she seeks to rekindle that fire, to which Tom is all too willing. 

Throughout the show, we are guided by the Narrator whose songs either fill in blanks, set up the next scene, share our character’s thoughts and feelings, or even have a storyline of their own.

The evening plays out similarly to the long-time Broadway hit Rent or maybe even your choice of any Andrew Lloyd Webber staple. Hardly any straight dialogue, all songs, and what could be considered singspiel, which is similar to recitatives used in opera.

And there are a lot of ironically titled songs such as: “Narrator 1”, “Prattle 4”, “Crying Scene Theme”.

Each performer was fully engaged in their performance and character, giving a little of themselves with each note.

As Myranda Thomas’ Narrator performed “Crying Scene” I could almost see her as a chanteuse on stage at a little dive bar; the only thing missing was a sequined gown and boa around her neck. 

Christina Booker’s Sara was powerful and tough when the character called for it, but she had my heart when she was vulnerable, such as with “Little by Little” with Andrew Newton-Schaftlein’s Michael. Speaking of Mr. Newton-Schaftlein, I want to congratulate you on your vocal growth sir. You were giving us a lot of power and confidence.

And speaking of confidence, Landon Sholar wasn’t lacking any, as his Tom was beguiling in a weird, sleazy way.

As I mentioned, Mr. Sisk had assembled a quality group of musicians and it was nice to have a live band nestled in the back and to the side of the audience.

The performers also mingle with the audience. Not necessarily engage, but mingle, so we are all present for the actors. And the characters all drink a good deal of alcohol in the course of the play. Hopefully, you won’t mind being that close to the action.

I absolutely enjoyed myself with this production on many fronts. But, there were some times that it was difficult to hear the actors’ singing and there may have been a flub or two. But, all in all, I think it was a good start for this new company. I look forward to what’s to follow.

Bravi Tutti!!

Murder Ballad

August 19 – 29

Tickets are $22 and may be purchased HERE

Time Slip Theatre 
Loft at The Biscuit Lounge and Barry Wooley Designs
120 S. 10th Street 
Louisville, KY 40202

Annette Skaggs is heavily involved as an Arts Advocate here in Louisville. She is a freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe and in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career, she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York City Opera, and Northwestern University. Her knowledge and expertise have developed over the course of 25+ years’ experience in the classical arts.