Alison Fraser is
Original Cast Recording
Music by Christopher McGovern
Book and Lyrics by Christopher McGovern and Amy Powers
Directed and Choreographed for the stage by Bill Castellino.
"LIZZIE BORDEN" received its World Premiere at The American Stage Company (James N. Vagias, Executive Producer) on October 31, 1998.
The State/Robert Flaherty: MICHAEL BABIN
Emma Borden: JOAN BARBER
The Girl: MADELINE BLUE
Mrs. Durfee: BETHANNE COLLINS
Adelaide Churchill: BRENDA CUMMINGS
Lizzie Borden: ALISON FRASER
Abby Borden: ELEANOR GLOCKNER
Andrew Borden/The Judge: REX HAYS
Lutton: STEVEN L. HUDSON
Detective Fleet: JAMEY MCGAUGH
Bridget Sullivan: ROSE MCGUIRE
Mrs. Brayton: MARIAN STEINER
Conductor, Piano, Keyboards, Orchestrations: CHRISTOPHER MCGOVERN
Cello: JENNIFER GRAVENSTINE
Percussion Arrangements: GLEN D. WILKOFSKY
Original Vocal Direction: RICK CHURCH
Album Produced by Bruce Yeko for Original Cast Records
Recorded December 5, 1998 at PPI Recording Studios, New York City.
Engineered and Mixed by Chip M. Fabrizi
Mastering: Paul Gold, DIGI-ROM, NYC
Graphic Design: Bob Weston for Weston Graphics
Additional Graphics: Amy Woloszyn and Bob Forman, DIGI-ROM
June, 1893, New Bedford, Massachusetts. It is the final day in the trial of Lizzie Borden, accused of the "Crime Of The Century." The jury has been given the case to deliberate ("PROLOGUE").
Shift back ten months. The nearby town of Fall River is going about its daily business in spite of the heat ("EVEN FOR AUGUST"), when neighbor Adelaide Churchill and the "QUIET LITTLE TOWN" discover to their horror that Andrew Borden and his second wife Abby, two of its wealthiest citizens, have been hacked to death. They gather outside the Borden house, trading rumors about the crime. Inside, a dazed and strangely unemotional Lizzie, Andrew's daughter gives conflicting versions of her whereabouts at the time of the murders. her statements arouse the suspicion of Detective Fleet. Under massive public pressure, The State order her arrest based largely on circumstantial evidence.
Nine month later, the trial begins. Adelaide Churchill is asked about the relationship between Lizzie and her step-mother Abby. She recalls a church work meeting with the town's social elite, including Mrs. Brayton, the reigning matriarch, and Mrs. Durfee, a confectioner. "BEFORE THE TEA PARTY" Lizzie is nervous that Abby's plainspoken nature and Emma's awkwardness will cost her entrée into the privileged world of those who live on The Hill. She retreats into a childhood fantasy with her younger self, The Girl, about the life she craves ("THE HOUSE ON THE HILL"). A longstanding friction between Lizzie and Abby helps make the "FIRST TEA PARTY" less than successful, despite Lizzie's valiant attempts to fit in.
Later in her bedroom, Lizzie remembers her twelfth birthday and the gold locket she received from her ordinarily parsimonious father "EVERY TIME I LOOK AT YOU". As an adult, Lizzie has rebelled against her father's philosophy that "valuable things are very rare": she has become a shoplifter ("BUTTONS"). the merchants of the town have turned her bizarre quirk to their advantage, padding their bills to her father and skimming profits for themselves. Andrew mysteriously pays without question, asking only that they keep the arrangements "just between you...and me."
Andrew hires Robert Flaherty, an Irish immigrant laborer, to rebuild the Borden's backyard barn, Lizzie's haven from the oppression of the house, and the home of her pet pigeons ("FLY AWAY"). At Abby's behest, Andrew has dispatched Robert to kill the birds in preparation for his work. Shocked, Lizzie tries in vain to keep Robert form his task. Andrew intervenes and takes a hatchet to the birds himself. Lizzie is spattered with blood and The Girl watches in agony.
In the office of the prosecutor, The State and Fleet bemoan the flimsiness of their case. At the trial, Bridget Sullivan, the Borden maid - or Maggie - testifies as to the events of the murder morning. The acrimony between Lizzie and Abby intensifies inside the house as Bridget, charged by Lizzie to wash the windows in the broiling heat comma, bites her off-color tongue ("THE MAGGIE WORK") The prior day, Andrew's penchant for thrift only adds to the simmering pot of tensions in the household, as he attempts to stretch the food budget to an inhuman extreme ("ANOTHER DINNER"). Lizzie and Robert meet in the yard and his interest in her grows. Knowing her father did not pay close to a living wage, she presents hi, with a gift to help him return to Ireland ("FLY AWAY - Reprise").
After dinner, in Lizzie's room, Emma chastises her for her reckless behavior at the shops in town. But Lizzie is anxious, and the lecture falls on deaf ears. Alone, Lizzie attempts her evening praters to no avail. In a vision, the real source of her anger is revealed. She witnesses Andrew making advance to The Girl, while reminding her again that this is "just between you...and me" ("HOT").
The trial continues. In three separate areas Mrs. Brayton and the ladies at tea confer; Fleet and The State review the negative press they are receiving; Lizzie attempts to prepare Emma for her imminent testimony ("THE TRIAL OF LIZZIE BORDEN UNWINDS"). On the stand, Emma recounts the Borden house three days after the murders. the police are due back to search the cellar, where Emma finds a carefully hidden bag of rags. Innocently, she brings it to the kichen where she, Lizzie and Adelaide are preparing to quilt. Among the scraps is a stained blue cotton dress similar to the silk one Lizzie has turned over to the police as the "blue dress" she claims to have been wearing when the crimes occurred. The sister distract Adelaide into gossip as Lizzie surreptitiously snips and burns the dress in the coal stove ("OH HOW AWFUL! OH HOW SAD!")
Mrs. Brayton pays her obligatory visit to Lizzie in prison. The townsfolk muse that "EVER SINCE AUGUST" their cherished way of life has all but evaporated.
The evening before the murders, money and jewelry have been stolen from Abby's desk. It is the last straw. Andrew accuses Lizzie, and announces that he is changing his will, leaving his entire estate to the more "responsible" Abby. Shaken, Lizzie rushes from the house, finding Robert in the back yard packing his things to leave. She sees him wearing the ring and implies he might be suspected. She solicits his help, and frightened he agrees "SO EASILY".
Lizzie returns to the house, where Emma is packing to leave for a visit with friends. Fearing an explosion, and protective of Lizzie, Emma insists on staying. But Lizzie is strangely adamant about her leaving. After she reluctantly departs, Lizzie at last lets down her guard ("I CRY ALONE").
August 4th, 1892. Lizzie "lifts the latch and turns the key" for Robert and they both ascend the stairs. In a blackout, Abby is murdered. Andrew arrived home unexpectedly early, and seizes the opportunity to be alone with Lizzie. Robert, trapped and hiding in the house, discovers Lizzie and Andrew's abnormal alliance. The lights fade. When they are restored Andrew has been murdered and Robert, Lizzie and The Girl are flecked with blood. Lizzie convinces Robert that he will be seen as the most likely suspect, and hurries away. Alone, The Girl helps Lizzie clean her blue dress of telltale blood ("MURDER MORNING").
Lizzie Borden is acquitted and returns to Fall River, anxious to claim her rightful place in society ("VERDICT"). She purchases a house "on the Hill", but the scandal has made her a pariah - freed by the judicial system, but sentenced by her contemporaries. Hand in hand with The Girl, Lizzie retires to her beautiful new prison where they vow to keep all of their secrets "just between you...and me" ("THE HOUSE ON THE HILL")
"...Ambitious...an unnerving and provocative tale. Richly layered choral passages by townsfolk, merchants and the gossipy tea-party matrons relate the accumulating facts...'Fly Away' which describes Lizzie's yearnings and "The House on the Hill." about the promise of future comfort and security, are quite lovely. Alison Fraser portrays the alleged murderess with coiled intensity." --Variety
"McGovern's core works...the bigger numbers especially 'The Maggie Work' late in the first act are deliciously entertaining...the cast is uniformly excellent. A good piece brimming with promise." --The Bergen Record
"Poised, polished (McGovern and Powers) turn the legend into a stylized musical, consistently intelligent, understated and entertaining. (The) music is melodic and the lyrics smart...a shocking twist on the old story." --North Jersey News
"Ms. Fraser subtly lifts the shades on the edgy, unraveling interior life of an ignored, misunderstood and maligned lost soul." --The New York Times
"'Lizzie Borden' sings...It is also the stuff of riveting theatre. Complex and compelling...'Lizzie Borden' is a promising work given a handsome production by the American Stage Company." --The Sun Bulletin
"A double wallop climax...chilling." --The Villadom Times
"The authors present three reasons which might have driven Lizzie to murder, two of which are startlingly heinous...'Lizzie Borden' works." --The Newark Star-Ledger
"Lizzie Borden has resurfaced as a gripping musical. The world premiere musical made its stunning debut to a rousing reception by an enthusiastic audience." --Suburban News
"One is well advised to pay close attention to 'Lizzie Borden'..." --Herald and News
"Compelling...a creative excursion into the mind of Lizzie Borden and the judicial system...there are no easy answers here, only pointed questions poignantly placed before the audience by a talented cast and creative team." --Theatre Reviews Limited