The Ballad of Julia & Juliana — Working Together to Create a Murder Ballad

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06 Jul 2013

Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash
Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash
Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash have reconnected with their past with the help of a dingy bar, a throbbing love triangle and a bloodstained bat.

It is nearly impossible to be introduced to playwright Jordan and not break into Rodgers and Hammerstein's, "You're a Queer One, Julie Jordan" from Carousel.

"Oh, that's okay," she'll be telling the 10,000th jerk who does this — because it invites a lovely memory, which she always readily relays to her new acquaintance.

It seems, during her first year at The Juilliard School as a writer, Terrence McNally asked her to sit in on his Master Class, run lines with Zoe Caldwell and observe. Audra McDonald, who won the first of her five Tonys singing that song, was also in the play. Jordan recalled, "When I walked in, the first thing Terrence said was, 'It's Julia Jordan. Sing the song!' And Audra sang that right in my face. Now I just love it when people do that."

Jordan couldn't be farther from R&H these days, though. R&R would be more like it, only here that stands for rock 'n' rage rather than rock 'n' roll. Her clamorous and aggressive Murder Ballad is titled after a sub-genre of the traditional ballad form where lyrics describe a murder and its aftermath.

"I have loved murder ballads for the longest time," she admitted. "I find them thrilling and exciting. I just love the form," so translating that form into musical theatre has been a genuine kick for her. "As a writer, the thrill of doing this show was in writing the murder ballad itself, writing the twists and the turns of it."

And there are at least two more to come, "I'm planning a trilogy — all commenting on the one that came before, all with different characters and places."

For installment one, she enlisted the aid of a friend, Nash, who had never written for the theatre before, but who had a hard-driving rock band, Talking to Animals, that Jordan liked.



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