It’s been more than a century since alleged axe murderer Lizzie Borden was acquitted of killing her father and stepmother, yet the woman remains as mesmerizing a character as ever. In fact, the infamous Massachusetts lady has experienced a resurgence in popularity of late, thanks to the creative team of Tim Maner, Alan Stevens Hewitt, and Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, who directed, wrote, and scored the macabre rock musical Lizzie. Santa Barbarans have a chance to see the gritty, socially probing play, thanks to Out of the Box Theatre Company (OTB), which opened its tantalizing production last Thursday at Center Stage Theater.
Set in the early 1890s in the days leading up to and following the murder trial, Lizzie tells a heartbreaking tale of abuse, allegations, unrequited love, and the limited options afforded to women. Performed on a minimalist set, the cast includes Lizzie Borden (Katie Moya); her sister, Emma Borden (Amy Soriano-Palagi); the Bordens’ maid, Bridget Sullivan (Samantha Corbett); and neighbor Alice Russell (Sydney Wesson). The casting for OTB’s production was stellar. The songs are vocally complicated and require the ability to sing with gusto but also with nuance. All of the actresses were more than up to the challenge — Moya was particularly impressive, able to convey a vocal ferocity that informed her character’s mental state — and when they harmonized as an ensemble, it was aurally breathtaking.
The actors were backed by a live band, which added to the immediacy and intensity of the production. Out of the Box’s Lizzie tells a fascinating story set to spine-tingling music, and starring an incredibly talented cast. Don’t miss the chance to see this engaging, delightful show.