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Barbara Borden Morrissey as Emma and JoAnne Giovino as Mrs. Churchill

George Burns had his Gracie, Lucy had Ethel, Abbot had Costello, and the P.E.P. has been blessed with the dynamic duo of Barbara and JoAnne, proof  that great things often come in pairs.  The gals have been best pals for over two decades and have been frequent visitors over the years to the Lizzie Borden B&B, with both being regular guests every August 4th since the house was opened.  In years gone by, Barbara’s mother, Mrs. Lucy Borden, a decendant of Lizzie’s great uncle Cook Borden, was a regular August 4th guest at the house.  “Jo Jo and BoBo” are the leavening which makes any skit “rise” and after years playing various Borden case characters, their familiarity with the case makes for brilliant on -the- spot ad libbing which is always a crowd pleaser.  Their combined high energy and grasp of the Victorian era, as well as an instant rapport with the audience bring out the best in any cast.  Every performance is as fresh as the first, and every year an anticipation of what new twists the pair will bring.  “Lady Barbara” and JoAnne are both enthusiastic members of the Second Street Irregulars and dedicated Mutton Eaters whose annual desserts at meetings are always a revelation!  If the “Game is Afoot”, you can be sure these gals will be first out the door, dressed to the nines and leading the pack with all the fire usually attributed to redheads !

Recently, in an interview, Barbara had this to say about herself:

“No I have never done any acting unless you consider being a town meeting member for 24+years counts.  I was born in Fall River at St. Anne’s Hospital. My regular job is grandmother,wife and friend,and I love my job. I love to read mysteries (especially about Lizzie); gardening,travel and politics fascinate me. I do believe the only person with the opportunity and motivation was Lizzie.She and Emma had the most to gain,in fact the only ones who would gain anything if Mrs.B was gone. I think that is one reason why my family never talked about her, our family black sheep.”

JoAnne as Mrs. Churchill with “Dr. Dolan”, Ted Gregoire.

A few words from Mrs. Churchill herself-

“Anyhow….. I was born in Lynn,Ma. A big city similar to FR. It was know as the shoe capital and had several shoe factories. It was quite the city in the 50’s. Unfortunately, as FR it has taken a down turn. I saw it happening once big malls were developed. Downtown disappeared!
 
I graduated from Salem State College with a degree in elementary education. Right after graduation , I married  and moved to Dedam and then Saugus where I was a permanent substitute teacher. What a job…yuck! I have two daughters, Katelyn and Leslie Anne. Later my husband and I owned and operated our own business. He did the work and I spent the money. He is now retired. I went to Woodstock in 1969….groovy man. I was one of the few who actually bought a three day ticket. I went with my two best friends at the time. I have some great memories. as a matter of fact, My husband and I last year were up around that way and I had him stop at the site. of course it has changed but in my eye it was 1969. I shed a couple of tears.
 
I moved to Billerica and met Barbara 25 years ago and have been best friends like sisters really ever since. We have a great time no matter what we do but Lizzie is by far one of our most cherished things. I am  the chairman of the Billerica Conservation Commission . We review and condition development that impacts wetlands, floodplain, rivers etc. I was recognized by the premier state organization of conservation commissions, The Massachsetts Association of Conservation commissions and was named Conservation Commissioner of the year a few years ago. Also I was awarded an environmental award for my volunteerism and achievements from the federal goverment in 2003. I love to read, especially mysteries. Thanks to the Mutton Eaters, I have discovered Sherlock Holmes.I have a wild imagination (dressing little sheep in period costume!) and I never want to grow up.”

Ladies, take a bow!

The role of Bridget Sullivan, the Borden’s Irish maid, is the glue which connects the characters and revelation of the plot to the audience.  No one who exited the house on August 4th could forget the letter- perfect Irish accent of Kathleen Troost-Cramer.  With a mother whose maiden name was McMurphy, we might have a good idea where the great Irish brogue originated!  Kathleen, a daytime tour guide at the house on Second Street for the past three summers, has no problem slipping into the humor, posture, and dialect of Bridget.  With a B.A. in Theatre from Emerson College, Kathleen is no stranger to the actor’s life either.  Currently Kathleen is pursuing her PhD in Biblical Studies at Boston University and manages to squeeze in a trip to Israel to work on an archeological dig, work during the week at the Lizzie Borden B&B Museum and pursue many other interests and hobbies.  Kathleen’s husband Bob is sometimes seen behind the old black vintage stove at the Borden house as he ties on the apron to flip the jonnycakes on a weekend for overnight guests. 

Kathleen has a few ideas as to whodunnit: “I think Bridget is the most mysterious person in the case and knew more than she told in order to protect her reputation.  Just what did she know?  I believe John Morse killed Abby Borden that morning and an acquaintance of Morse’s later killed Andrew.  Bridget unknowingly let Andrew’s killer in the house.  After working here and seeing the layout of the house, my initial assumption that Lizzie was innocent soon disappeared.  It is impossible to believe that Lizzie did not know what was happening-that she knew nothing about the plot.  With Abby’s time of death a little “wonky”, as to the exact moment, there is room to believe that Abby died very early on and could be in the time frame where Morse could have managed it and taken a street car down to the Emery house to establish his alibi.

If I could play any other role than Bridget it would be Lizzie herself because there are so many ways to approach that character.  I do not think she wielded the hatchet- but she sure had a hand in it!  If I could have answers to three questions only they would be: 1.  What was the truth about the attempted purchase of Prussic acid?  2. Was there ever a note sent to Abby and if so who was sick and who delivered it?  3. What caused the rift between Emma and Lizzie in 1905?”

Lambie Winner 2009 Best Actor Joe Radza as John Morse

Cast 2009

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