Update: Saw Zombie Joe’s production of “The Trial of Lizzie Borden” this weekend and will be doing a review shortly. Meanwhile, there’s this from an earlier post:
With all the new plays coming out about Lizzie Borden who would have ever imagined this happening!
Now that I’ve got your attention, I hope that made you chuckle. No? Rough crowd. But I’m here all week.
Seriously, there have been a growing number of plays written about Lizzie over the last few years that have actually made it to the stage. Many written decades earlier never came to life under the bright lights. A couple had a modicum of success as a published work and brief runs on Broadway.
One of the earliest ones was Nine Pine Street, a Play in Three Acts and Epilogue, written by John Colton and Miles Carlton produced on stage in 1933 and starred Lillian Gish as the character Effie Holden who was supposedly Lizzie.
Probably the most successful (in terms of the countless productions performed all across the county in the past 30 years) is Sharon Pollack’s “Blood Relations“. It premiered at Theatre 3, Edmonton, Alberta, March 12, 1980, directed by Keith Digby. The play is set in 1902, with its “dream thesis” set in 1892.
Christopher McGovern wrote the music, lyrics (with Amy Powers) and book for “Lizzie Borden: The Musical,“ which premiered in October 1998 at the American Stage Company in Teaneck, N.J. This also has been highly successful and appears often around the country. The album has long become a collector’s item.
Marjorie Conn premiered her one-woman show: “Miss Lizzie A. Borden Invites You to Tea” in 1995 in Provincetown, Mass. This play begins 21 years after the murders.
The Testimony of Lizzie Borden by Eric Stedman, a docudrama staged in an accurate reproduction of the Borden sitting room which re-created much of Lizzie’s actual inquest testimony, premiered at Theatre on the Towpath in New Hope, Pa. in 1994 and was presented in Fall River in 1995.
The anthology of short plays, “Sepia and Song”, contained a play called “A Memory of Lizzie,” with scenes from Lizzie Borden’s childhood interspersed with quotes from her trial.
Lizzie Borden’s Tempest by Brendan Byrnes played the New York International Fringe Festival in 1998. As Lizzie reads the role of Miranda in The Tempest with her local theatre club, Shakespeare’s storm resurrects and reunites the Borden Family. The play’s central idea is based on an actual program displayed at the Fall River Historical Society that lists a “Miss Borden” playing the role of Miranda in The Tempest. To illustrate the caliber of the writing, here’s a line delivered by Lizzie: “My bowels constantly remind me of the possibility of sharing Christ’s passion,” Ok, enough said.
Lizzie Borden Live! a one act play written and starring award winning Jill Dalton is hands down the BEST play for two reasons: the sheer force and passion of Dalton’s performance and the point-on accuracy of the script. It’s the kind of experience that stays with you for weeks.
Lizzie Borden the Musical – Very much unlike McGovern’s musical, this play of the same name is a rock music production that leaves less to factual context than to artistic license in presenting a highly entertaining (and loud) feast for the eyes and ears. This premiered September 12, 2009 in New York City.
Nance O’Neil – is the title of play and the stage actress whose theatrical legacy has been overshadowed by her brief friendship with Miss Lizbeth of Maplecroft, Gary Shrader’s production for the Blue Coyote Theater Group premiered last month to mixed reviews.
Then, of course, there are these, the more or lesser known:
1940 – Suspect, a Play in Three Acts by Reginald Denham & Edward Percy. Published by Hurst & Blackett.
1945 – The Trial of Lizzie Borden – by Donald Henderson., a radio play broadcast on BBC radio July 16, 1945.
1957 – Murder Takes the Stage by James Reach, A three-act play with the protagonist known as “Miss Liz,” who becomes a suspect in a new murder and who had been acquitted for a double-ax murder fifty years earlier.
1959 – The Legend of Lizzie: A Play in Two Acts by Reginald Lawrence. A 2-act play which closed after two performances on Broadway. But hey, at least it got there. He was actually a very prolific playwrite.
1980 – The Lights Are Warm and Colored: A Play written by William Norfolk, a play in two acts.
1991 – Slaughter on Second Street by David Kent first staged in 1992 at the Lizzie Borden Centennial Conference after Mr. Kent’s death. Published by King Philip Publishing. (He also wrote Forty Whacks)
1993 – Lizzie! A Play in Two Acts by Owen Haskell. A tongue-in-cheek comedy in two acts with a challenge in its dust jacket illustration. Published by Lazarus Press, Providence, RI.
Finally, we have to mention the play “about Lizzie Borden” that Nance O’Neil was in. For years I haven’t been able to find anything substantial about this, let alone the play itself. Just mentions of it here and there. Anybody out there know more on this? Could it have been this play?
Doubt it. 🙂