LIZZIE The Musical – Review – Trinity Arts

LIZZIE The Musical – Review – Trinity Arts (1)

By Rachel Crow, October 2023

It’s 1892. New River, Massachusetts is reeling from the gruesome murder of two of its wealthiest residents, but just who did it?

An odd choice for a musical? Maybe so, but it’s one that Hope Mill Theatre execute (if you’ll forgive the pun) brilliantly!

If you’ve heard the rhyme “Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother 40 whacks / When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41” you’ll be familiar with the true crime case of Lizzie Borden. If, like me, this is all news, let me summarise.

LIZZIE The Musical – Review – Trinity Arts (3)


The youngest of two daughters, Lizzie was accused of bludgeoning her father and stepmother to death with an axe in the family home. She was arrested and tried for their murders in what has subsequently been dubbed one of the US’s first ‘trials by media.’

And so it is I find myself in the rather apt surroundings of Trinity Arts Centre in Gainsborough (a tastefully converted church, complete with its own graveyard) waiting for curtain up on the first UK-built tour of LIZZIE the Musical.

Delving into the life of the infamous young woman, the musical explores Lizzie’s relationships with her father and stepmother, her sister Emma and maid Bridget. We’re given glimpses of her fragile mental state from her desperation to stop her father abusing her to the soaring hope she finds in her romantic entanglement with neighbour Alice.

Lauren Drew is outstanding as Lizzie delivering the perfect balance of innocence, rage and menace. Her performance is totally captivating, and her vocals pitch perfect. In fact, all the vocals in the small, but perfectly formed cast, are on point. Maiya Quansah-Breed as love interest Alice encapsulates the god-fearing, law-abiding innocence of the times. Shekinah McFarlane presents a formidable figure as the older sister trying to protect her young sibling while Mairi Barclay is quite fearsome as the all-seeing, all-knowing maid Bridget.

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“Unashamedly loud”

Featuring a punk-rock soundtrack that will knock your socks off and more than a passing nod to SIX this is no ordinary musical. It’s bold, it’s brash and unashamedly loud. Definitely not one for the faint of heart!

This is a dark and deeply moving piece of musical theatre with a truly promising future.

“Maybe someday people won’t whisper, point and stare.” – well Lizzie, there’s definitely no whispering in this production!

If you missed it at Junction Goole earlier this month, head on over to Trinity Arts this week. LIZZIE the Musical runs until Saturday 21 October.


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