The murder is the least surprising thing in the story," says Circle Theatre coartistic director Kevin Bellie of Murder Americana: The People vs. Lizzie Borden, which premieres this week. Director Ty Perry kept in touch with New York playwright Harry McEwan after appearing in McEwan's comedy Satan's School for Girls at Circle five years ago; as a result, this play has been fine-tuned in a half dozen readings at Circle over the last year. Billed as a thriller, Americana focuses on the Borden story from Lizzie's perspective, laying bare the rumored history of abuse at the hands of her father, her stepmother, and even a local farmhand that might have led her to whack her parents. "The whole town was in on it," says Bellie. "They knew about it and let it continue." Townsfolk were scandalized again when she continued to live among them after her acquittal, flaunting both the wealth she inherited from her father and, it was said, a female lover. Bellie designed the costumes, including the two dresses Lizzie wears the day of the dirty deed--pink over bloodstained blue. Half-price previews are June 21, 22, and 25 at 8; the run continues Friday and Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 3 through August 4. There will also be Thursday performances at 8 on July 18 and 25 and August 1. Tickets are $19, $17 for students and seniors. Circle Theatre is located at 7300 W. Madison St. in Forest Park. Call 708-771-0700 for reservations.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Greg Kolack.