Lizzie at TheatreWorks 

There are any number of questions raised by the famous Lizzie Borden ax-murder case. But when it comes to Lizzie, the all-woman, all-rock musical, one question seemed a little more pressing than all the rest. Given the nature of the infamous Borden killing, and the musical's own splattery history, will the front row of the audience need to wear raincoats?

"I hope not," director Kell Christie says, suggesting a shift in emphasis. "I don't think anybody's going to get blood on them," she adds. "And if they do, it's highly washable."

click to enlarge Forty whacks
  • Forty whacks

New Moon Theatre Company owns Halloween like Memphis' larger theater companies own the Christmas season. Lizzie, opening Friday at TheatreWorks, is this year's spook show. It's also the company's first musical ever.

"It's like the Runaways," Christie says, comparing the score to Joan Jett's first band.

For Lizzie, New Moon has assembled an all-female cast and production team. "That doesn't happen much that you get to play in that kind of environment," Christie says, highlighting talent-rich cast that includes Annie Freres, Joy Brooke Fairfield, Jaclyn Suffel, and Christina Hernandez. "That's been interesting and the tiniest bit subversive in a way I think theater needs to be now."

Lizzie mixes speculative fiction with historical artifact. "Some of the court testimony is verbatim," Christie says. "Why was there no blood on the dress she was wearing after the murder? Was she naked when she killed [her parents]?

"You don't want a victim to stay a victim. You want them to become survivors. That's really the point we're trying to make," Christie says. "But that's not always pretty. We want victims to be docile and meek and thankful, and I'm not always sure that's how we get survivors."

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