The temperature is rising, the pears are getting ripe and attention turns once again to the doings of August 4. 1892 in Little Old Fall River. The Pear Essential (PEP-PY) Players welcome two new members this year in the roles of Alice Russell, the Borden sisters’ bosom friend, and Dr. Dolan, medical examiner, played by husband and wife team of Ted and Loretta Sisco. The couple have been vistors at the house for several years and will take the plunge this year on August 4th! The Usual Suspects will be making a return this year in the old familiar roles and a few undertaking new character roles. Advance tickets may be reserved beginning on July 5th for the Monday, August 4th schedule of eight performances at 10:30, 11, 11:30, 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3. Call the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum at 508-675-7333 to reserve tickets. Reservations are recommended as performances sell out early every year. Miss Carol Ann Simone will reprise her role as Miss Lizzie for her third year running. Did she do it? You decide!!
CAST FOR 2014
|Miss Porter/FR Herald||JoAnne Giovino|
|Abby Borden||Robin Bertoldo/Shelley Dziedzic|
|Emma Borden||Danielle Cabral|
|Lizzie Borden||Carol Ann Simone|
|Dr. Dolan, M.E.||Ted Sisco|
|Mrs. Bowen||Ellen Borden|
|Mrs. Kelly||Kat Woods|
|Mrs. Burt/Nosey Neighbor||Shelley Dziedzic|
|Officer Harrington||Rick Bertoldo|
|Marshal Hilliard||Ray Mitchell|
|Miss Manning/FR Globe||Barbara Morrissey|
|John Morse||Joe Radza|
|Alice Russell||Loretta S. Sisco|
|Detective Seaver||Michael Shogi|
|Bridget Sullivan||Suzann Rogers|
|Undertaker Winward||Jerry Pacheco|
It’s always fun to find just the right thing to add years to the Borden house. Co-owner LeeAnn Wilber haunts the antique shops and auctions on a quest to find just the right object to bring the 1890s feel to the house on Second Street. Here are some new finds which will greet you on your next visit to Lizzie’s home. The dead pigeons and pears print in the “Death in the Dining Room” genre is typical Victorian decor and is especially fitting for the Borden dining room for those who know the significance of pears and pigeons! The kitchen refrigerator has received a face lift in the form of oak panels to evoke the old ice box once found at the house in the sink room. Lizzie loved blue and pansies and this charming Eastlake footstool is just the ticket for Lizzie’s own room. Lizzie’s room also boasts a wonderful Sailor’s Valentine made of shells on the south wall. Rhode Island Antique Center in Pawtucket was the place to unearth a delightful summer fireplace screen for the sitting room. In the Eastlake, ebonized and gilded style, the canvas is hand – painted with blue summer blooms. Little touches can add so much age and charm to period settings.
The FRHS announced an exciting donation to the Borden archive today. The following appears on the FRHS Facebook page and is very exciting. How can we wait until August 4th?
“Lizzie Borden’s home: Extremely rare photograph discovered! Lizzie Borden had this green and gilt “Maplecroft” seal made for use on her correspondence — a rare example of her personal style during her years in that residence. Now we are excited to report that a truly unique photograph taken inside the French street mansion while Lizzie lived there has been given to the FRHS! It’s the only suchphoto ever to have surfaced, and anyone with an interest in Lizzie will find it fascinating. For the first time, we have a partial but revealing glimpse of the interior of her home. And the subject of the photo – something Lizzie apparently cherished — helps to debunk one of the biggest myths perpetuated about her.
Donated by a descendant of Lizzie’s personal maid, Ida S. Carlson, the photo came to us with impeccable provenance. Lizzie hired a professional photographer to capture the compelling image and had it mounted in an ornate frame, and around 1899 she gave it to Ida, who displayed the treasured piece in her home until her death, at which time it was acquired by a relative.
The photo will make its debut at the FRHS at a special exhibit opening on August 4, 2014, where it will join a collection of other recently acquired Borden-related items of note. Mark your calendar, and be sure to come and take our informative tour about the life and trial of Lizzie Borden!” (Posted April 22, Facebook).
You never know what you may find in an auction box stuffed full of odds and ends. Recently Lizzie Borden B&B co-owner, LeeAnn Wilber inherited an interesting document signed by Abby Borden’s half-sister, Sarah Bertha Whitehead. Case historians will tell you how important the Gray-Whitehead house on Fourth Street figured in the further decline of warm family feelings among the Borden sisters and their stepmother when Andrew Borden bought out and deeded over this property to his second wife without informing “the girls”.
This 1901 document grants right of way for septic hook-up on the property until such a time Spring Street pipes were installed, and is signed by Bertie Whitehead. At the time of the murder, Spring Street stopped at the corner of Second Street. Later on the Gray-Whitehead house was shifted onto a new foundation on the continued Spring Street where it rests today.
(courtesy of the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum Archive)
Released on May 13th, most likely prompted by the recent popularity of the Lifetime Channel’s Christina Ricci effort- the 1975 version with Elizabeth Montgomery can now be pre-ordered on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Legend-Lizzie-Borden-Elizabeth-Montgomery/dp/B00HZVX14O/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1394644302&sr=1-1&keywords=Legend+of+Lizzie+Borden
For many, this made-for-TV movie was the starting point for interest in the Borden case. Highly recommended viewing, as Montgomery gives a compelling performance in the title role and the script stays closer to the real story than the recent Lifetime Channel effort, even though some liberties are taken and some key figures left out. Youtube has had the film online, albeit chopped up in segments, for some time but it will be a treat to see it start to finish uninterrupted. The film’s signature musical theme is unforgettable.
Poor Uncle John Morse- left out the movie yet again. Morse, the brother of Lizzie and Emma’s real mother, went missing in both made-for-TV movies. He had been invited to spend the night before the murders in the guest room where Abby would be murdered the next morning. Morse was an early suspect and was followed by an angry throng the night of the murders when he went to mail a letter. Morse had a very detailed and iron-clad alibi but many still think he knew something about the murders. An eccentric, and ill-clad old bachelor farmer and livestock dealer, he seemed on kindly terms with his niece Emma but not very close to Lizzie. He probably wished until his dying day that he had not stopped by the day before. He is buried in Iowa. Oh, and he once had training as a butcher.
After the great ratings and enthusiastic reception of the less-than-accurate Lifetime attempt at telling the Borden story, you can be sure a little flurry of books will soon be out there, hopefully getting it right. Random House has signed up a new Lizzie young adult book to be published in Spring ‘16. It’s a narrative non-fiction book called The Borden Murders, and is by Sarah Miller. Another released this month is now available on Amazon. Keep your fingers crossed for accurate research. We can only hope, Lizziephiles!
The hatchet killing which happened just before Lizzie’d trial began and which was referred to in the Lifetime movie this past weekend was the Bertha Manchester crime- which thankfully was solved. Care was taken that Lizzie’s jurors did not learn about this case as it would seem to suggest a killer was still on the loose in Fall River with a hatchet. Bertha Manchester is also buried in Oak Grove Cemetery.http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F50B17F7345B1A738DDDAC0894DE405B8385F0D3
So, Bordenphiles everywhere are probably burning up their keyboards tonight writing reviews of the much-hyped Lifetime movie, Lizzie Borden Took an Axe. Before the verdict is in, why indeed was this production rushed to the screen? Clearly with a gross lack of fact checking on the case, the culture and mannerisms of the times, set dressing and costume, this was a low-budget rush job to get something in the can to beat out the anticipated Playtone-Tom Hanks production starring Chloe Sevigny. Ms. Sevigny, a visitor to Fall River and a case enthusiast would have done the role justice.
The never-ending inaccuracies, too numerous to mention in full, indicate a total laziness on the part of the scriptwriters to even consult Google for the most basic of facts on the case. In fact, other than the undeniable truth that two people were murdered in Fall River, most probably with a hatchet, there is not much else this version of the story got right.
Filmed in Halifax, presumably for the vintage atmosphere and possibly budget constraints, the film begins with a house which looks nothing like the Borden house, a city which looks nothing like a city and most certainly nothing like Fall River. There is no flavor of the mills, Main Street, the Hill section or the river. At least they did not attempt the distinctive Fall River accent.
Even those not in the know about speech patterns, costume, mannerisms and culture of 1892 will instantly sense something is quite wrong on all these counts. For example, a woman would never have appeared on the street without a hat, and most assuredly not at an inquest. When making a period piece, attention to the smallest detail is essential lest the entire screen illusion of the event be destroyed. And speaking of destroyed- what did you think of Lizzie’s playlist?
• The Black Keys, “Psychotic Girl”
• Ian Clement, “The Hammer & the Nail”
• Sons of Jezebel, “Whoo Boy”
• Kreeps, “Pennsylvania Boarded House Blues”
• Paul Otten, “Dangerous Mind” *
• The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer, “Are You Listening Lord,” “Shake It”
• Pow Wow, “All In” *
• Lady of the Sunshine, “White Rose Parade”
• Cavendish Music Library, “Razzamatazz Man”
It is always a great risk to incorporate contemporary music in a period piece. The end result may be campy or it may turn out to be another Marie Antoinette film disaster of recent years. In this case, the spectacle of Christina Ricci striding out defiantly to a forbidden party in what might be construed as a “Soiled Dove”, cleavage-baring bodice to the strains of “Whoo Boy” is laughable. At the party Lizzie meets Nance O’Neil who makes her entrance into Lizzie’s life at least 12 years too early. Understandably, in a two hour film, many factual sequences must be collapsed or even omitted in the interest of time. What is unforgiveable is that in this production, they managed to find precious minutes for total fabrications which never occurred, or did not serve the history timeline in the least, while leaving out vital information and actions and incidents crucial to the case. It’s almost as if the script writer had a large handful of facts about the case scribbled on post-it notes, threw them all up in the air, and whatever order they landed in was the order in which they appear, sometimes tarted up or altered at will and with zero relationship to the actual timeline of the true events.
As in the Elizabeth Montgomery 1975 film, (a vastly superior effort), Lizzie’s Uncle John Morse was left out as well as Mrs. Churchill, the very important star attorney and former Massachusetts Governor Robinson, Mr. Moody for the Prosecution, and others. Andrew Jennings was the sole embodiment of Lizzie’s defense. With the actual Borden trial transcript available, the screen writer for this sad attempt himself should have been hanged for Laziness in the First Degree. Kudos for getting the famous line uttered by Lizzie in response to whether she and her mother were cordial, “It all depends on your idea of cordiality”.
Also disappointing was the performance of Christina Ricci, a talented young actress who turned in a one-note song as Lizzie. The real Lizzie Borden was a multi-faceted and subtle person; refined, dignified, meticulous, affectionate to friends and also stubborn, having feelings of inferiority, and a full spectrum of traits as most human beings possess. Ricci has made her name as a quirky, Goth-Girl, dark performer and is good at it. She is better than the lines given her in this production. Ricci’s distracted, crazy poses, bulging eyes, and defiant little outbursts did not make for much depth-of character.
So many disappointments for even the most casual Lizziephile: Lizzie standing over a cauldron stirring up that infamous dress, outside, while Emma shrieked and Alice Russell peered out a second storey window, City Marshal Hilliard played as a fool, Andrew Borden with dark hair and a mustache, Lizzie racing around in her underwear with hair streaming wantonly down her back, the missing scene where neighbor Addie Churchill spies the corpse of Abby Borden under the bed, Dr. Bowen popping out of his house like a jack-in-the-box when Bridget hammers on the door. All so incorrect. All so maddening. When will anyone recognize that this story deserves to be told as it actually happened? If Cameron could not get it right with his Titanic epic, as pretty as it was to look at- then there is little hope the real, and truly fascinating story of the Borden case will ever see the light of day. Another golden opportunity missed.
Two thumbs way down. Not released tonight, it escaped. Airing again on Sunday. Give it a miss.
As the leaves begin to turn in September, thoughts begin to turn towards Lizzie Borden again. After a brief respite from the August Lizzie fever, cooler temps and the approach of Halloween always seem to inspire revivals of Borden-centered plays around the country. The Boston Lyric Opera has some exciting news. The BLO’s Opera Annex production this year is a commissioned work, a new chamber version of Jack Beeson’s Lizzie Borden (Nov. 20-24, in the Castle at Park Plaza). – (See more at: http://bostonclassicalreview.com/2013/09/a-bustling-boston-music-season-on-tap-with-many-anniversary-celebrations/#sthash.xAJvjAuB.dpuf)
Paranormal groups and television production companies are drawn to the house on Second Street to capture that something extra which flavors the very atmosphere this time of year. The house is busy with overnight guests and day tours and thoughts are turning to Halloween night, which is a sell-out every October 31st.
Once again Fall River is about to tear down a fine old building to make room for a parking lot. The Morgan Street School, known as the N.B. Borden School more recently, was sold for a pitiful sum. Last used in 2007 as a grammar school, there had been plans for the redundant building to be converted into a community center. The layout inside would have been ideal for a city museum. Timetoast.com ran this article on its timeline about the sale of redundant schools in the city: ”
In February 2012, the city council delays sale on Belisle; awards bids for Osborn to SB&A Realty Group, Fall River, for $3,111 for professional building, and for N.B. Borden to TA Restaurant Inc., Fall River, for $5,000 for parking and possibly apartments. Council President Linda Pereira removes Pat Casey from RE Committee related to Belisle School controversy.
For more information on Lizzie at the school visit the W&W link below.
Preparing for the performances and on the day!
Yes, it’s that time of year again- the August through Halloween Lizzie Season when plays, books, Lizzie website news, hatchet-throwing contests and such begin to appear with a vengeance. The kickoff is usually on July 19th, Lizzie’s birthday, and the fever pitch continues right through Halloween night when the house on Second Street is packed to the attic and more than one trick- or- treater dresses up as the infamous Lizzie B.
A special Borden exhibit will debut at the Rock Street Fall River Historical Society on August 4th, and as usual, the Pear Essential Productions will be putting on the annual dramatization at the Borden house on Second Street. This year there will be a few new faces in the familiar roles, and a new director for the Bordenian amateur acting troupe, many of whom work at the Bed and Breakfast during the week. Oak Grove will be hopping with visitors to the Borden plot, and the Herald News and other area newspapers will not fail to recall those famous days of 1892. Are you ready for All Things Lizzie?
The Pear Essential Productions’ annual August 4th dramatization at the Borden house will have a few new faces this year. Mike Shogi, from Cleveland will be directing this year for the first time as long-time producer-director and script writer Shelley Dziedzic steps down after a long run. She will still assist with ticket sales, script and costuming.
There will be some big changes in casting this year as well as a few old familiar faces reprising their usual roles. Stay tuned for more cast announcements here.
Below: The cast from August 4, 2012.