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Death-row musical revue in Park City?

Published February 22, 2012 8:21 am

Music • Nellie McKay brings death-penalty issue to the fore with music, comedy and history
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Is it safe to say that this weekend there is only one "death-row musical revue" in Utah. That's how British musician Nellie McKay, 29, describes her latest show, "I Want to Live!" making its Utah debut in Park City.

In an interview, McKay said she first saw the 1958 Academy Award-winning film "I Want to Live!" on the suggestion of her mother, and when McKay read the DVD's jacket describing the anti-hero as a "girl of ill repute who hangs out at seedy bars." McKay recognized the similarities in the girl and herself, she said.

In the new show, McKay plays Barbara Graham, the third woman in California history to be executed in the gas chamber in 1955 after allegedly killing an elderly widow for money. In McKay's hands, the tale is told with humor through a musical, but like the film, there is a thinly disguised message that decries the barbarity of the death penalty. "As soon as you learn about [executions], it has a grip of your imagination," McKay said. "There's a definite sadism to it."

The off-kilter comedy asks the question, she said, "Why do we kill people who kill people?" McKay is attracted to stories that call into question authority figures, she said, because "they're a lot of fun."

When • Saturday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m.

Where • Eccles Center, 1750 Kearns Blvd., Park City

Tickets • $18 to $65 at ecclescenter.org