BY CAROLYN CROWCROFT
Cardinal Stage Company will close out its 2015–16 season with Murder Ballad, an electric musical that Artistic Director Randy White says is unlike anything the company has ever done before.
Murder Ballad follows the dramatic story of a love triangle gone sour. After reuniting with a former lover, Sara, played by new Cardinal actress Shaina Vencel, finds herself caught up in a sordid affair that leads to lies, betrayal, and, of course, murder. The play builds tension by not revealing the killer’s identity until the very end. White says he was drawn to Murder Ballad by its sultry music, with lyrics by the play’s writer Julia Jordan and music and lyrics by indie rock singer-songwriter Juliana Nash. The production is sung-through, meaning all of the dialogue is in song. White says he is excited by the chance to end Cardinal’s season on a less traditional note.
“This show is very different,” White says.
“The music is stripped down, steamy, and overheated. It makes for fun music and a fun story.”
To fully immerse the audience, the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center Auditorium will be transformed into a bar serving wine and beer to match the play’s New York City setting.
White says he hopes the audience is excited by the top-tier local musicians in the play’s band, which include guitarist David Gulyas and bass player Ron Kadish.
Along with its aesthetic distinction, White says part of what makes Murder Ballad intriguing is the dark themes it draws upon, including the public fascination with bad behavior.
“These things are all around us,” he says. “Divorce, lives put into meltdown and disarray, boredom, passion that couldn’t be tamped down. This play says, ‘it exists,’ and it shows its repercussions.”
White says he is excited to try something new. “Every adventure is potentially not going to work,” he says. “This will definitely be an interesting experiment.”
Murder Ballad will run June 17–July 3 at the Waldron Auditorium. Tickets can be purchased at the Cardinal box office or online at cardinalstage.org.