Review: ‘Lizzie,’ presented by Ray Of Light (****)

by Charles Kruger
Rating: *****
(For an explanation of TheatreStorm’s rating scale, click here.)

This reviewer is a voting member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)
This reviewer is a voting member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

“Lizzie” (the production, not the character) is a great show business story. It started back in the early 1990s as a living room concert of a few songs on the theme of Lizzie Borden, the infamous axe murderess. People liked it and it grew. It reincarnated later that decade as a larger concert, with a few additional songs, and more people liked it. They liked it a lot. It took another decade, well into the 21st century, before “Lizzie” was reborn as a full-fledged theatrical rock musical. But its virtuosic in-your-face metal punk roots are rock solid, so to speak.

This is not Broadway style pop rock. This is full out, in-your-face punk.

So, if your idea of a rock musical is stuck at “Hair” and the Age of Aquarius, you mind find “Lizzie” to be strong medicine.

But if punk and heavy metal ring your bells, you are going to LOVE this concert. Yes, it is more of a concert than a play, but who the fuck cares? It’s one hell of a concert by one hell of a band and four singers up front who know how to yell.

Bridget, the Maid (Melissa Reinertson), Lizzie Borden (Elizabeth Curtis), and Alice the Friend (Taylor Iman Jones) rock out in Ray Of Light's San Francisco premiere of
Bridget, the Maid (Melissa Reinertson), Lizzie Borden (Elizabeth Curtis), and Alice the Friend (Taylor Iman Jones) rock out in Ray Of Light’s San Francisco premiere of “Lizzie.”

Let’s start with the band. They came together for this production and, under the direction of David Möschler, they shoot the moon. Möschler’s credits (including teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music) are more than impressive. Although Ray Of Light proudly proclaims itself a community theatre, happy to wave its amateur banner, Maestro Möschler is no more an amateur than Michael Tilson Thomas and it shows. This music may not cater to the common idea of sophisticated taste, but for the genre, it can’t be performed any better or more respectfully than this. Möschler himself handles the keyboards and harmonium, with Sam Schwartz on lead electric guitar, Brendan West on electronic and acoustic guitar (rhythm), Freya Seeburger on cello/percussion, Jeff Patterson on electric bass, and Dan Blum on drum/set percussion.

But, of course, it’s all about the singers. Jessica Coker, Elizabeth Curtis, Taylor Iman Jones, and Melissa Reinertson

tear it up. Standout performances include the foursome’s rendition of the haunting “Forty Whacks” and Jessica Coker nearly brings the house down with “What The Fuck, Lizzie?”

Okay, so this musical about domestic violence is a long way from “Carousel,” but it is, in its own bloody manner, one hell of a merry go round.

“Lizzie” continues at the Victoria Theatre through October 17th. For futher information click here.


“Lizzie” by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, Tim Maner, and Alan Steven Hewitt, a Bay area premiere produced by Ray of Light Theatre. Director: Eliza Leoni. Musical Director: David Möschler. Choreographer: Nicole Helfer. Scenic Designer: Angrette McCloskey. Costume Designer: Melissa Wortman. Lighting Designer: Joe D’Emilio.


Lizzie: Elizabeth Curtis. Emma: Jessica Coker. Alice: Taylor Iman Jones.  Bridget: Melissa Reinertson. Swing: Jocelyn Pickett. 


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