Lizzie Borden & the Arts
Lots of Lizzie to look forward to in the early months of the new year. Available in March and ready to pre-order on Amazon now
In addition to the hoped for opening of Maplecroft in the very near future is the debut in NYC of the rock musical LIZZIE. Follow the production news on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/LizzieMusical/
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.
Over the holiday weekend, the Boston Pops paid tribute to New England icons, including Lizzie Borden, by playing selections from the Morton Gould musical score for Agnes DeMille’s FALL RIVER LEGEND of 1948.
Miss DeMille was one of the very few allowed into the Second Street home of the McGinns as she worked on the choreography for the ballet featuring the Borden case. This Youtube sampler from the ballet suite was composed by Gould in 1947. Gould died in 1996.
( Prologue & Waltzes 03:30 – Elegy 06:25 – Church Social 10:27 – Hymnal )
As posted yesterday, Miss Lizzie is coming home for two performances August 5th and 6th at the Nagle Auditorium at B.M.C. Durfee High School in a production by the Covey Theatre Company of Syracuse, N.Y., according to the Fall River Herald News http://www.heraldnews.com/entertainment/x2108626470/Latest-Lizzie-Borden-play-to-be-staged-Aug-5-6-in-Fall-River
For reviews of the play and some color stills, visit this link http://www.thecoveytheatrecompany.com/production-archives.html
Tickets may be purchased online at the link and word is out that this new treatment of the case promises to satisfy the most ardent Bordenite. Snag a ticket early!
In addition to anticipating the upcoming release of the historical society’s Parallel Lives, August will welcome a new play about the famous case. The Herald News reports:
A new play, “Lizzie Borden Took an Axe,” depicting the well known Lizzie Borden case will be staged in Fall River for the 119th anniversary of the hatchet murders of Andrew and Abby Borden.
There will be two performances on Aug. 5 and 6 at the Nagle Auditorium at B.M.C. Durfee High School by the Covey Theatre Company of Syracuse, N.Y.
Fresh from winning two Syracuse Area Live Theatre awards for Best Original Play and Best Costumes, as well as the Gloria Peter Playwright competition from Aurora, NY, “Lizzie Borden Took an Axe” left critics enthralled and Bordenophiles raving.
“Lizzie Borden Took an Axe” will be staged Friday and Saturday, Aug. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by calling 315-420-3729 or online at” www.thecoveytheatrecompany.com.
The annual costumed recreation of August 4th will take place as usual at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast on the 4th, which this year, will be a Thursday, just as it was in 1892.
Plenty of Lizzie on the way for August!
(courtesy of Chris Striker Bounds)
As part of their annual weekend gathering, the Second Street Irregulars made a stop at the Fall River Art Association on April 1st to see the recent portrait of Lizzie by local artist, Tiago Finato http://www.tiagofinato.com/
- Chloe Sevigny is Lizzie Borden
“Big Love is set to air its series’ finale next Sunday, and some of the cast is not waiting around to find their next projects. Ginnifer Goodwin is already signed for the ABC fantasy series Once Upon a Time, and now Chloë Sevigny has joined the cast of HBO’s upcoming four-hour miniseries on Lizzie Borden. Sevigny, who has been the driving force behind the project, is set to star as Borden as well as co-executive produce.
Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman will produce through their joint company Playtone, which also produces Big Love. The story will follow Lizzie Borden’s trial, from which she was acquitted of killing her father and stepmother with a hatchet. Chloë Sevigny will star as Lizzie Borden, as well as co-executive produce.
Bryce Kass is writing the screenplay. The miniseries will likely air in 2012. ”
Cupcakes have been a trendy foodie item recently. After the TV success of shows such as Cake Boss, Ace of Cakes, and now Cupcake Wars, it was only a matter of time before Lizzie made it to the cupcake competition. Iron Cupcake, an organization which celebrates the miniature morsels and hosts themed cupcake bake-off contests, has cupcake affiliate chapters all over. In October of this year, the Toronto branch had a Halloween competition. The entries were creative and tasty, and the competition was fierce,but in the end it was the Lizzie Borden display which won. The photo of the winning display below is from the “Cake Bites” web blog of Gabriella Caruso who was a competitor in the Halloween challenge. http://cakebitess.blogspot.com/2010/10/iron-cupcake-toronto-halloween.html
The white chocolate hatchet is spectacular and the cupcake shown on the ribbon and lace bedecked round platter in the background has a small skull on the top. Monica Law was the creator.
For more on the competition, read an article about the contestants and entries at the link below.
Gillian Murphy as Lizzie Borden in Fall River Legend
Gillian Murphy a principal dancer in the New York’s American Ballet Theatre, previewed the upcoming controversial film, The Black Swan and compares approaching such a terrifying role undertaken by Natalie Portman to her take on channeling Lizzie Borden.
“ I once played the character of Lizzie Borden in “Fall River Legend.” That was fairly intense because you have to embrace the role onstage and experience what that character is about — very repressed and angry. But does that mean I was a nightmare to live with? Absolutely not — Ethan [Stiefel, her boyfriend ] would not have lived with me if that was the case.”
River’s Edge Library in North Jersey is the venue for a unique art exhibit running through the end of the month. Works by the artist are inspired primarily by fictional things such as the Mad Hatter’s teacup, arranged as an artistic “artifact” to give a feeling of reality to a literary character. Lizzie’s hatchet is one of the two items which draws upon reality for its inspiration.
‘”Arcanifacts” is a collection of 21 works taken from a larger project River Edge resident Scot Ryersson began in 2007. Ryersson said he invented the term from the Latin words arcanus (secret) and factum (thing made) to describe an artifact containing both mystery and truth.”
For more about the exhibit visit http://www.northjersey.com/news/105409913_Exhibit_inspired_by_fictional_characters.html
No, the statue above is not Lizzie Borden- but she is to be found in Massachusetts- in the town of Haverhill at GAR Park. Her name is Hannah Duston and her fame commenced in 1697 after an incident with a local Native American tribe. Hannah’s statue is said to be the first erected to a woman in America. For more about this grisly and bloody true story, visit this very informative and entertaining New England folklore blog.
Chances are you have not heard of the Garst Museum in Greenville, Ohio unless you are a fan of Greenville- born world traveller and TV star Lowell Thomas whose adventures enthralled millions on radio and later television. Or perhaps sharpshooter Annie Oakley, about whom the Garst has produced a world-class exhibit about her life.
As part of their autumn lecture series, another famous lady will be featured as subject of a one-woman show as Christy Igo takes on Lizzie Borden- no sharp-shooting pistol, but a hatchet just as deadly.
(photo of Ms. Igo from http://www.lizzieborden.info/_wsn/page2.html)
“Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 2:00 p.m., Christy Igo’s program “Lizzie Borden: A Life” is coming to the Garst. It is full of laughter, mystery, and horror as she brings Lizzie Borden to life to tell HER STORY of the murder of her beloved father and step mother. This crime is one of the bloodiest, most notorious and mysterious crimes of the 19th century!
In 1892 Lizzie Borden was found NOT guilty by a jury of her peers. Most of the towns folk of Falls River, Massachusetts DISAGREED. The trial received worldwide media attention. Lizzie became a celebrity. The gruesome details played out in the daily newspapers.
Did she or didn’t she? Modern law students still argue the case. You be the judge.
Christy Igo trained at Ohio University’s Professional Actor Training Program as well as at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. She has worked professionally all over the North Eastern United States. She has worked in film, commercials and documentaries. She formed HerStory productions in 1999 to produce and perform original one woman shows about inspirational women from history.The Garst Lecture Series are free to the public, thanks to a grant from the HOPE Foundation and the Harry D. Stephens Memorial Trust. This lecture may be more suitable for mature audiences. For more information please call 937-548-5250 or online at www.garstmuseum.org.”
This just in from Andy Propst via Theatermania.com for all those wondering about Lizzie Borden, the rock musical which is included as part of new theatre projects during the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals in Manhattan this fall.
The annual Festival of New Musicals will held in New York City on Thursday, October 21 and Friday, October 22, 2010 for a select audience of NAMT members, producers and other musical theatre industry professionals
“Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, Alan Stevens Hewitt and Tim Maner’s musical about murderess Lizzie Borden will feature Carrie Cimma in the title role, along with Jenny Fellner, Marie France Arcilla and Beth Malone. The piece will be staged by Victoria Bussert, with music direction by Matt Hinkley.” The production website is at http://lizziebordentheshow.com/index.php/axe/about/ for more.
For a sampling of some of the musical selections http://lizziebordentheshow.com/index.php/axe/media/
“A rock roadshow retelling of the bloody legend of America’s first and favorite axe-wielding double-murderess and Victorian hometown girl
by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, Tim Maner, and Alan Stevens Hewitt.”
Most recently the show ran for six weeks in fall 2009 at the Living Theatre in New York as a full-length original rock musical, produced by Took An Axe Productions.
(photo by Beau Allulli)
Have you seen the portrait of Lizzie Borden by Tiago? Currently, Mr. Finato is painting a portrait of the new Fall River Mayor. The Lizzie portrait shows Lizzie with a slightly ominous gaze! http://fineartamerica.com/featured/lizzie-borden-tiago-finato.html
To learn more about the young Brazilian artist, read his bio here http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/tiago-finato.html?viewcomplete=true
What a great poster for the upcoming Blue Coyote production at the Access Theatre, Broadway!
Not quite done with Lizzie and the Borden case yet? Here is the link to an article about what is yet to see, and news of a production opening soon about- Nance O’Neil!
With the proliferation of Lizzies popping up at haunted hayrides, ghost tours and Halloween venues all over the country, Lizzie duds are in demand for the season. The same fashion ensemble used for the Living Dead Dolls series is now available up to a woman’s size 12 in a “dead ringer” three piece in black and scarlet, selling for $44.95.(hatchet not included).
Those leg o’ mutton sleeves are de rigeur of course, but the rest of the costume is easy to manage from your closet and tool bench, being a long skirt, boots and weapon-in-hand. Lizzie’s frizzie bangs and tight little bun complete the look, and perhaps a slightly crazed glint in the eye. Internet tips on Lizzie costuming urge red hair, but of course Lizzie was not a redhead- light brown hair is listed on her passport from 1890.
Don’t forget the costume contest Saturday night at the Eagle on North Main Street, a special feature of Lizzie Borden Live ! , the award-winning play starring Jill Dalton. First prize will be a night’s stay at the famous house on Second Street. Strap on your corset and come on down!
(photo credit) CELIA FRANK/For Shorelines
Susan Roche (left) plays Emma Borden and Karen Garrett is Lizzie Borden in “After the Murders: The Quest of Lizzie Borden,” which will open Friday at Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre.
Lizzie’s on stage again -this time in a mystery drama by Fernandina Beach playwright Richard Wolf entitled “After the Murders: The Quest of Lizzie Borden”.
To read more about the new production which is set in the interval after the acquittal, visit this link http://jacksonville.com/community/shorelines/2009-10-21/story/abet_production_goes_after_the_murders_in_lizzie_borden_case
“After the Murders: The Quest of Lizzie Borden” will be performed Friday-Sunday, Oct. 30-31 and Nov. 6-7 at the Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. The theater is in the Adele Grage Cultural Center, 716 Ocean Blvd., Atlantic Beach. Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors, students and military. For reservations, call 249-7177 or visit www.abettheatre.com.