Home Musical score Lizzie Borden’s musical gets an Australian overhaul

Lizzie Borden’s musical gets an Australian overhaul


The musicals were about as violent as grazing cows. West Side Story changed that, so Sweeney todd and American psychopath really opened the gates of blood. Now Lizzie comes to town. Where Todd carefully cut his victims’ throats with a razor, the real Lizzie Borden used an ax to polish her father and stepmother in Massachusetts in 1892. The musical, written by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer, Tim Maner and Alan Stevens Hewitt, wonders if it was justified.

Maeve Marsden, the director of the Sydney production, likes how the show’s moral compass is blurred in relation to its four characters: Lizzie, her sister, her maid, and her neighbor.

The cast and producers of Lizzie. On the back: Stefanie Caccamo, Marissa Saroca and musical director Victoria Falconer. Foreground: Ali Calder, director Maeve Marsden, Sarah Ward, director of the Ghenoa Gela movement. Credit:James brickwood

“One of the reasons the show appealed to me is that musicals often have clear heroes and villains,” Marsden explains, “and this one doesn’t.” Even the love affair between Lizzie and her neighbor Alice is “unsolved and murky.”

Marsden shifted the setting to contemporary Australia, in part because, with the text’s references to the sweltering heat of summer, she felt that this “gossip, small town, hot and dirty story” was a good fit. here. Add the songs sung with Australian accents, and she hopes to create an oz-gothic work in the tradition of Wake up in fear, Mystery Route and Wolf creek.

Music director Victoria Falconer and sound designer Jarrad Payne mixed grungy Riot Girl-style music with oppressive heat-inferring soundscapes, which, in turn, play on the traumatized psyche at the center of the story.


“So in the first half,” Marsden explains, “as we deal with Lizzie’s motivation for committing the murder and her backstory of abuse and mistreatment, it sounds really electric and metallic, and a lot drones, which is not really in the original score, but relates to the cicadas and the hum of an electric fence.

Then, in the second half, when Lizzie is “freed” by the murders, the music gets wilder.

Marsden wanted neither the cast – of Marissa Sarocca (Lizzie), Stefanie Caccamo (Alice), Sarah Ward (the maid) and Ali Calder (the sister) – nor the group conforming to the usual precision of musical theater in rendering songs. .