“Murder Ballad” to take the stage as rock opera

The Truman State theatre department is concluding its season theme — “What would you kill for? What would you die for?” — with the rock opera “Murder Ballad,” which will run until Saturday.

Set mainly in a bar, “Murder Ballad” centers on Sara, a young New Yorker who is torn between the monotonous life she shares with her husband and family, and the enticing passion of an ex-lover. As an old flame is rekindled, an affair ensues, and the audience is drawn deep into a story of retribution and revenge.

Theatre professor David Charles Goyette, the show’s director, says the department announced the show a year ago, and the team began working on it near the end of January. The cast rehearsed five days a week for four hours a day, Goyette says.

Goyette says one change made from the original production is Truman’s version offers more glimpses into the specifics of moments in scenes.

The original production was a kind of stand and deliver, which means it was sung all the way through with little specificity, Goyette says. He said the crew sought to amend this through specificity of costume, prop and physical relationship to elaborate on particular moments within the story. This change is important because when the audience understands the specifics of a situation, people are drawn deeper into it because it feels more authentic, Goyette says.

Goyette says he thinks the music — which combines blues, rock, punk and alternative — will really draw the audience in. One of the central elements of punk and rock is anger and aggressiveness, and that style of music emphasizes those emotions and feelings in the play, Goyette says. There is also a longing in blues that mirrors the sense of longing present in the play, he says.

“I think we all have these revenge fantasies about when somebody does us wrong … what we would like to do to exact revenge,” Goyette says.

Murder ballads are cautionary tales, Goyette said. This play examines what happens when people are pushed beyond the breaking point, he says.

Goyette says the show focuses on the issues in our personal lives that drive us to take action. To an extent, it also critiques our fascination with murder and violence in the media, Goyette says.

“I think it’s a very sexy show,” Goyette says. “And ultimately, it’s a guilty pleasure.”

“Murder Ballad” performances will be 8 p.m. April 13-16 in the James G. Severns Theatre in Ophelia Parrish. Admission is $5, and tickets are on sale in the Ophelia Parrish Box Office.

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