A Star is Born (redux): Rebecca Naomi Jones and Company Kill in “Murder Ballad” by Kevin M. Thomas

Will Swenson and Caissie Levy

Will Swenson and Caissie Levy photo: Joan Marcus

“Murder Ballad” returns to Off-Broadway and kills it.

Rebecca Naomi Jones

Rebecca Naomi Jones photo: Joan Marcus

Three of the original actors are back in the production which has moved to New York’s Union Square Theatre. Read Original Review here.

Now in this slightly bigger venue, the show still packs a wallop, even without Tony winning Karen Olivio reprising her role.Caissie Levy does a great job playing Sara, a woman at a crossroads in her life and is torn apart between two men, representing passion and responsibility.

Will Swenson is still smoldering and continues to show his diverse talents as an actor, considering his last big role was in a dress in “Priscilla Queen of the Desert.” But he’s in strong voice, mind and body and his charisma that draws in Levy also captivates the audience, which pairs well with his on-stage nemesis John Ellison Conlee.

But the victor in the show, as before, is Rebecca Naomi Jones, who towers over all others on stage and draws you in with each breathe she takes, and note she sings. It’s quite a shame that Off-Broadway shows can’t compete for Tony Awards,  as Jones would stomp the competition. But a small show of this scale with its in-your-face production values and direction, that sends the actors into the audience and centers a lot of the show in its cabaret style setting,  would not transfer well to a bigger theatre. So for this and Jones, there will be no Tony Award…at least for this show. But Jones is a talent that we can never erase from our minds.

Creators Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash have a promising road ahead and one I plan to follow.

Out of towners just got some good news. “Ballad” has now been extended through Sept. 29 so make your summer plans now. To entice you to show, you can sample and download songs from the new album below. Go to www.murderballad.com for more information.