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A big thank you to all who have sent in photos and helped with the big day: the P.E.P. 2009 cast, Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum staff (Dee and John, Donald and LeeAnn, Dave, Logan, Deb and her daughters, Emily, Ed Thibault,), Don Sykes, Bob Shaw, ( there’s a big part for you next year, Don!!), Debbie Allard at the Herald News, the folks at Channel 10, Fall River Spirit, Rick Rebello, the visitors and guests at #92 who support us every year with their enthusiasm and attendance- and Bob Dube who graciously gave us a look at Lizzie’s life at Maplecroft. And now- on to August 4, 2010- with a few surprises in store! 

Visit us often at our new address https://pearessentialproductions.org/ the old address will still bring you here. This slide show courtesy of Lorraine & Ted Gregoire.

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Joe Madza’ s just too nice a guy to be playing old Uncle John, Lizzie Borden’s so-called peculiar relative.  John, who stayed in the guest room where Abby Borden would be murdered the next day has always been a somewhat sinister personality. Many think John knew about the murders, helped to plan and assist the assailant, or maybe even had a hand in it himself!  His alibis were nearly too perfect.  The only thing not clear was a motive.

pearbwJoe ‘s interest in the case began with a vengeance after viewing the 1975 Elizabeth Montgomery television film when he was a college freshman. “I was both admiring and appalled at the same time that a woman could do such a thing.”  Many applaud Lizzie’s grit in getting what she wanted and then soothe their conscience by saying the elderly Bordens were not nice and probably deserved what they got!  “We have to somehow justify approving of murder,” Joe says sheepishly.

The Victorian and Egyptian eras have a great resonance for Joe- and he wonders if reincarnation is so far-fetched.  “I felt right at home the first time I stepped into the Borden House- I had come home again.” 

When asked whose eyes he would have liked to have been looking through on the day of the murders, he responded immediately,

“Addie Churchill’s!  She was the very first on the scene, and she saw something important that day- something she would not tell.  It must have been an eyeful because she never told what it was”.

As to the killer, Joe has no doubt it was Lizzie- all the way, and solo-although others in the house and neighbors on the street knew more than they were willing to tell about the situation in the family and what they saw and heard that day.  Joe also agrees with the theory that Abby was the intended victim and Andrew was just unfortunate in coming home at the wrong time before Lizzie could concoct a reasonable alibi for the time of Abby’s murder. 

 “His was a killing of self-preservation for Lizzie- because who would have known better who could have killed Mrs. Borden and why?”

Joe has researched his character inside and out for his portrayal Tuesday.

“I don’t like Morse- I don’t think he was a very lovable man or a nice one,” Joe admits candidly. “He did not seem surprised at Abby’s death, and his behavior watching and taking it all in while eating pears under the trees in the back yard seems unnatural behavior”.

 But the chance to don a fake gray beard and look “peculiar” and sinister under the pear trees was a role too good to miss!  When Joe is not time traveling to 1892, he is an eighth grade teacher in Warren, Ohio teaching science and gifted students.  I’d bet he’s a favorite with the kids!

shelleyd

“I have a great sympathy for Abby Borden, she had a tough job of trying to mother those two stepdaughters,” says Shelley Dziedzic, scriptwriter for the annual re-enactments.  In younger years Shelley took on the role of Miss Lizzie, which was “very difficult as so many people come with differing expectations of Lizzie.” Since 2008, the character of the slain Mrs. Borden has been a silent one, with the deceased Mrs. Borden prone on the floor upstairs. 

“I think it is important to have visitors to the house on this day see what Bridget Sullivan the maid, and neighbor Addie Churchill saw on August 4, 1892.  It is chilling to bring to life that black and white photo we all have seen of Abby Borden dead on the floor by the bed.  To see it in 3-D and in color adds another dimension.  Most people are shocked and silent when they enter the room, their eyes going up on the wall to the crime scene photo in black and white of the same scene. This could happen today.”

abbyshell

Since 2007, the body of the other victim, Andrew Borden, has been carefully covered with a blood-stained sheet as he lay on the famous black sofa.

“We tried many things to capture the horror of Andrew Borden’s face- from prosthetic wounds to blood soaked eye patches but I think leaving it to the imagination of the guests by not showing everything works best.  Their inner vision of what is under the sheet is far more horrifying than anything we could create with make-up.”

Mostly Dziedzic wants people to know that the re-enactment is done with respect for the victims, and a true attempt to bring to life an historic event.

“I am always dismayed when I read a comment in the local papers or on the Internet that our group is glorifying a tragedy, or they say is a little wacky and gruesome.  I think historic re-enactors such as one finds at Gettysburg, Sturbridge, Plymouth, or Mystic Seaport or any number of places do a great service in presenting history in a visual way which will prompt people to want to learn more about what happened so long ago.”

Her dream is to one day have enough actors to take on the role of all the characters who had a part on that August morning- and to do so in real time.

“I think there just might be some real revelations if we could do it.”

Sweet Bridget from County CorkThis year the role of Irish maid, Bridget Sullivan from County Cork will be played by P.E.P. newcomer Kristin Pepe.  Shown above getting into the character on June 20th at Lizzie Borden Live, Kristin’s greatest worry is getting down the Irish brogue, which may “for an Italian gal”-  be a bit of a challenge.  Kristin joins the P.E.P. Players fresh from the Lizzie Borden Society Forum and is an intrepid Mutton Eater First Class!  A few years ago Kristin solved the pressing mystery of where Lizzie’s sister Emma went to school-Wheaton Female Seminary, now Wheaton College in Massachusetts, and has since enjoyed researching other Borden-related projects.

Over the years, Borden house employees Kathleen Cramer-Troost, Samantha Carey, Amanda, and former general office manager Michele have taken a stab at playing the Borden maid.  Looks like Kristen already knows how to serve up something tastier than mutton!

Bridget with coconut chicken

It hardly seems possible that August 4th is just around the corner again.   Rehearsals for this year’s production will take place on August 3rd, and new cast members will be learning the ropes.  This year we welcome Joe Razda of Warren, Ohio as Uncle John.  Joe comes out to Fall River for a week every year and this year will be the first character visitors will meet on August 4th.  Uncle John’s alibi was that he had been in the eastern part of the city visiting relatives at the Emery house on Weybossett St.  Joe has ordered a real hair fake beard and John’s signature gray sack suit and string tie for the occasion.

Also new to the August 4th cast this year is Ellen Borden, sister of Barbara Morrissey (our annual Miss Emma). The sisters are relatives of Lizzie through the Cook Borden line.  Ellen recently appeared with the Mutton Eaters as Dr. Bowen’s wife, Phoebe at the June 20th performance of Lizzie Borden Live at the Eagle.

Ellen and Barbara Borden

Phoebe Bowen

Check back daily for news on the production and cast members as we start the one -week countdown to the annual event!

copperIt’s nearly August 4th again on Second Street and the cast for the Tuesday re-enactments is busy with costumes, learning lines and figuring out how to spirit gum false beards on chins.  Cast parts have been assigned and this year there will be a few new characters and faces as well as a few familiar faces from years gone by.  Naturally everyone wants to know who will have the starring part of Miss Lizzie Borden. Over the years the house on Second Street has seen the role taken on by Deborah Alie, LeeAnn Wilbur, Shelley Dziedzic, Dee Moniz, and accepting  the Lizzie challenge this year is newcomer Lorraine Gregoire.  Lorraine joined P.E.P. last year in the fabricated role of “Miss Manning” of the Fall River Herald- roving Girl Reporter and was such a hit in that part, now even playing Lizzie Borden would not be daunting. Fresh from a successful portrayal of long-time Borden friend and confidante, Alice Russell, at the performance of Lizzie Borden Live on June 20th at the Eagle, Lorraine is dyeing her blonde hair brown and getting ready to channel the “spirit” of the cool Miss Lizzie B. Now that’s dedication!  Good Luck Lorraine!

lorraine

Cast 2009   More on our cast coming soon!

Uncle John- Joe Razda
Bridget- Kristin Pepe
Undertaker Winward- Andrew Correia
Dr. Dolan- Ted Gregoire
Lizzie- Lorriane Gregoire
Mrs. Bowen- Ellen Borden
Mrs. Churchill- JoAnn Giovino
Abby Borden (deceased)- Shelley Dziedzic
Alice Russell- Sue Hauck
Mary Doolan- Kathryn Woods
Officer Medley- Ben Rose
Emma Borden- Barbara Morrissey
Andrew Borden (Under the Sheet)- Jeff Massan

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?”

 

It seems hard to believe that someone just 21 this month has accomplished so much so soon!  But the handsome and dapper Mr. C. has managed a great deal in a short time and has returned this year in the role of Undertaker James E. Winward- Lizzie’s mortician of choice for her father’s funeral.  Mr. Winward had his offices at #13 South Main at the time of the murders, and was very busy overseeing the details at the scene of the crime on August 4th.  The funerals were held on Saturday, August 6th from the sitting room of the Borden’s home.

Andrew truly is an “old soul” and captured Mr. Winward’s proper diction and manner, impeccable sartorial elegance, and genteel mannerisms down to the nth degree! He has been on stage since he was 5 years old and has performed with The Little Theatre of Fall River, Trinity Repertory Company, New Bedford Festival Theatre, Bristol Theatre Company, and other local community theatre groups. 

 

  He is also a 2006 graduate of The New England Institute of Funeral Service Education at Mount Ida College and is currently an
Apprentice Funeral Director & Embalmer with Nickerson Funeral Homes on Cape Cod. He is member of The National Morticians’ Honor Fraternity: Pi Sigma Eta (Alpha Omega Chapter).

 Originally from Somerset, MA, Andrew currently lives in Wellfleet, MA. and enjoys community theatre, Victorian funerals, historic buildings,  and genealogy.

And who would Andrew say is guilty of Murder Most Foul?  With regret, Miss Lizzie!

Lambie Winner 2009 Best Actor Joe Radza as John Morse

Cast 2009

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