Skip to content

“REVIEW and Interview with Dustin Wills, Director of ‘Murder Ballad Murder Mystery’”

2009 November 4
What do you think of this post?
Intrsting (0) Sux (0) Rawsome (0) LOL (0) H8 (0) Useful (0) ♥ (0) Inspiring (0) WTF? (0)

Not gonna lie: Sometimes I find Austin theatre to be really minimal and stuffy.  You know, the simple sets, the intellectual dialogue and the “acting.”  You’ll find none of that in Dustin Wills’s musical production of “Murder Ballad Murder Mystery” at the Vortex.

A murder ballad is a narrative song that tells the story of a murderer and his or her escapades.  Although meant to be warnings, these songs have a tendency to glorify the murders themselves.  When reading through this play, Director Dustin Wills saw a certain Disney-type whimsy in the characters’ stories. Instead of making something dark, he wanted to give the story a light-hearted circus feel.  Instead of blood and guts, characters pull ropes from their torsos.  Where the original play called for a body to be carved into a singing harp, Dustin decided to hoist the victim into the air on a tire swing. She spend the rest of the show suspended above the stage, swinging and singing like an old cabaret singer.

The stage itself reminds me o something Peter Pan’s Lost Boys might build.  It’s like a giant tree house with slides, ladders and a big wading pool in the middle. Ropes and nooses hang from the ceiling.  Dustin says they are like vines and branches from a swamp, or a hangman’s galley. The pool is a swamp.

The first half of the play is like a crazy singing murder circus put through a fun house mirror. It’s a little twisted as we watch the murders happen.  The second half is a little David Lynch-ish as a detective and a psychic try to figure out why and how the murders happened.

Last week, we caught up with Dustin at the Vortex Theater. While there, he let us try on costumes and get up in the tire swing.  He also told us a little more about the play and his inspiration.

DEETS: “Murder Ballad Murder Mystery” at the Vortex Theater (2307 Manor Rd); November 4th-November 6th; 8P; $30-$25 Priority Seating, $20-$15 General Admission, $10 Starving Artists. Wednesdays, 2-for-1 admission with donation of 2 non-perishable food items.

REVIEW: This play was brilliant. It’s like if the Lost Boys put on a musical about murder. wouldn’t consider myself a person who is into musicals, but I love this one. The music is bluegrass/country and not broadway over the top drama.  It’s funny and crass. It’s twisted, but it’s not goth.  It’s not passive watching, it’s an experience.  I want to go and watch it again to see what I missed the first time.


WATCH: In the 4-minute video, Chris puts on a crazy costume, gets in a tire swing…and he may even strip down to his skivvies!

GET IT: Like what you read? Add our RSS feed! [what’s that?]. Or start your morning with Republic of Austin in your InBox! Or read us 24-7 on Twitter!

No related posts.

Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

To leave a comment, enter your info in the form or sign in securely with your Twitter account.