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16th August 2023

Hope Mill Theatre takes 40 whacks

Lizzie, a “true crime rock musical” based on the life of alleged axe murderer Lizzie Borden, has its regional premiere at Hope Mill Theatre
Hope Mill Theatre takes 40 whacks
Photo: Hope Mill Theatre

Lizzie the musical premiered in the US and received its UK premiere in London a few years back with the Danish production. This new production is not only the UK regional premiere but also the first UK-built production of the musical – and it will be followed by its first ever UK tour.

Lizzie is based on Lizzie Borden, an American woman who was tried and acquitted of the 1892 axe murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts. No one else was charged with the murders. Borden spent the remainder of her life in Fall River, ostracised from other residents.

Lizzie Borden is not quite as iconic here in the UK as she is in her native US but some of you might recognise her name from the haunting nursery rhyme (a lot of nursery rhymes are dark but this one has most beat).

I have been fascinated by the Borden case for around a decade, since I came across the Lifetime film and television series, both of which starred Gothic Queen Christina Ricci (though I haven’t actually seen either).

Whilst I live and breathe musical theatre, I had no idea that there was a musical based on Borden’s life. Few people seem to – it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page!

As aforementioned, the title character will be played by Lauren Drew, who recently won a WhatsOnStage Award for Regent Park’s Open Air Theatre‘s acclaimed revival of Legally Blonde. She starred in the original UK (West End) cast of Heathers but is probably best-known for leading the second and third UK tours of Six. Some might recognise her from The Voice UK.

Maiya Quansah-Breed, who was nominated for an Olivier Award for starring in the original cast of Six, will play Alice, Lizzie’s neighbour, who she becomes quite close to. This is Maiya’s third show at Hope Mill, previously starring in their production of Rent and later the external production of Head Over Heels, which had its European and UK premiere at the venue. She is set to play a young Princess Diana in the international premiere of Diana, which is being staged in concert form in London.

Shekinah McFarlane, who starred alongside Lauren in the second and third Six tours after starring in the original West End production, plays Lizzie’s sister, Emma. She starred in the original UK cast of Seussical. She previously performed at Hope Mill in their first musical, Parade, and later in Hair. Like Lauren, she competed on The Voice UK.

Rounding off the lead cast is Mairi Barclay, who starred in the German premiere of Young Frankenstein and recently starred in Mother Goose. She previously performed at Hope Mill in Pippin.

Emma Louise Hoey will be Cover Lizzie and Alice. She previously performed at Hope Mill in their immersive club musical, Club Mex. Ayesha Patel will be Cover Bridget and Emma. She starred in the most recent production of Broken Wings.

Lizzie runs at Hope Mill Theatre from September 1 to 30 and tours the UK until December 16.

Jay Darcy

Jay Darcy

Theatre Editor. Instagram & Twitter: @jaydarcy7. Email: [email protected].

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