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Music by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt
Lyrics by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Tim Maner
Book by Tim Maer
Additional Music by Tim Maner
Additional Lyrics by Alan Stevens Hewitt
Based on an original concept by Alan Stevens Hewitt
Orchestrations by Alan Stevens Hewitt

LIZZIE has been developed with the assistance of tiny mythic theatre company, HERE Arts Center, Took an Axe Productions (Hillary Richard & Peter McCabe, Brisa Trinchero/Corey Brunish (Make Musicals) and Van Dean/Kenny Howard (Broadway Consortium)
LIZZIE was presented at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals in 2010 and further developed by Village Theatre, Issaquah, Washington (Robb Hunt, Executive Producer · Steven Tomkins, Artistic Director)
LIZZIE was produced by Theatre Under the Stars, October 2013.
The West Coast Premiere of LIZZIE was produced by Portland Center Stage, Chris Coleman, Artistic Director. 
Original European and London premiere produced by Frederician Theatre and Soren Moller, Denmark. 
To purchase recordings and sheet music, or for more information, please visit:

LIZZIE is presented by special arrangement
with Broadway Licensing, LLC (


Cast Biographies

*Indicates a member of Alpha Psi Omega, the national theatre honors society. 

Michaela FaithMichaela Faith (she/her) (Lizzie Borden) is a freshman at Aquinas College who is currently undecided on her major. She has been involved in many theatrical productions before college, including The Wizard of Oz, Peter and the Starcatcher, The Sound of Music, and more! Michaela hopes to continue pursuing theatre for many more years to come.
Reign LawsonReign Lawson (she/her) (Emma Understudy) is a current sophomore at Aquinas college. Reign is an Exercise Science major with a minor in Theatre. Reign has been involved in many shows. Some favorite roles include Mayzie La Bird (Suessical), Vertumnus & Others (Metamorphoses), Swoopsie (Firebringer), Scarlet (Clue), Florence Collymore (The Play That Goes Wrong), and many others. Reign has been involved in several films as well. When Reign is not performing on stage, you can find her lifting in the gym, training clients, or making audition tapes. After college, Reign hopes to pursue professional acting or become a full-time strength and conditioning coach for higher-level athletes. Reign thanks Scott Harman and Annelise Dickinson for the amazing acting opportunities they have given to her within her time at Aquinas. 
Gabrielle M. LeeGabrielle M. Lee (she/her) (Emma Borden) is a second semester sophomore at Aquinas College pursuing a major in Theatre (with a special love for musical performance) and a minor in Music. Favorite theatre credits include: Metamorphoses (Aphrodite and others), 9 to 5 (Judy Bernly), and For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls (Amanda). In between classes, you can find her working in the President’s Office or the Performing Arts Center Box Office. Gabrielle welcomes you and hopes you enjoy the show! 
Hannah Morey*Hannah Morey (she/her) (Bridgett Sullivan) is an Aquinas College senior double majoring in Theatre for Social Change and Communication. This is Hannah’s ninth production at Aquinas College. “Thank you so much for the wonderful experience afforded to me, AQ Theatre!” 
Annmarie Puzio*Annmarie Puzio (she/her) (Alice Understudy) is currently a senior at Aquinas College studying Child Life with a minor in Theatre. She is honored to be given the opportunity to tackle being an understudy, something she surprisingly has not done. Annmarie is not short of theatre experience. Though she is usually behind the scenes, she has been seen onstage during Aquinas College’s One Act Festival (Belonging Without Strings) and Sez She. Annmarie hopes to continue her journey in theatre and one day become a professional stage manager (come see her work on Curious George and the Magic Meatball this summer). She gives a special thank you and dedication to the late Doré Furstenberg who helped foster her deep love for theatre. "Some of my favorite people" ~ Doré Furstenberg 2019 
Annah StangDanira Stanojevic (she/her) (Alice Russell) is delighted to return to AQ's stage as an alum! She was last seen here as a Burgundy Team Member in Love and Information and as Gretch in The Terrible Girls. Most recently in the community, she was an ensemble member/accordionist in Hundred Days at Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids, and directed Carrie: The Musical with Betka-Pope Productions. Outside of theatre, Danira plays synth in a local band called Strange Skin.


Production Biographies

*Indicates a member of Alpha Psi Omega, the national theatre honors society. 

Annelise Dickinson (she/her) (Director) is thrilled at the opportunity to bring Lizzie to the Aquinas stage after previously directing AQ’s Metamorphoses, Waiting for Lefty, and Sez She. A Grand Rapids native, she has built a career as an actor, director, theatre educator, and voice/text coach in Chicago and throughout the Midwest. Favorite projects outside Aquinas include originating the title role in Muse of Fire’s Queen Margaret (Chicago), playing Prospero in The Tempest at Commission Theatre (Chicago), directing Gruesome Playground Injuries with Theatre In All the Wrong Places (Madison, WI), and playing the titular witch in Witch at Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids in 2023. Annelise is an adjunct professor in Theatre at both Aquinas College and Grand Valley State University, and this spring she will direct Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, where she also serves as an instructor and mentor with the Young Artist Studio. Annelise holds a BA in Theatre from Purdue University and an MFA in Acting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 
Matty OwenMatty Owen (she/her) (Music Director) is a west Michigan musician, actor, vocal coach, and lover of theatre. She has a BA in Theatre & Drama and a BA in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Indiana University class of 2018. She teaches at the Grand Rapids Voice Collective. Recent MD credits include Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog - Betka Pope Productions (BPP) 2023, Indecent - Jewish Theatre GR 2023, Rocky Horror Show - BPP 2022, The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Master Arts Theatre 2022, Jasper in Deadland - IU University Players 2018. Recent pit credits include Beauty and the Beast - Civic Theatre GR 2023, Chicago - BPP 2023, 9 to 5 - Aquinas Theatre 2023, Mary Poppins - Civic Theatre GR 2022, Once the Musical - Civic Theatre GR 2021. When not working on a show or coaching voice, Matty works as a host at Donkey Taqueria and loves the time she gets at home with her family Cory, Sabrina, Sam, and Elisha. 
Hailie MacKayHailie MacKay (she/her) (Choreographer/ Lizzie Understudy) has numerous credits with her favorite choreography credits including Anastasia the Musical, Mamma Mia!, and Carrie the Musical. Her previous performance roles include Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Roxie Hart in Chicago, Ensemble/Leading Player US in Pippin, and Crissy in HAIR (“Best Performer in a Musical” 2022 Broadway World Detroit Awards Nominee). Offstage, she loves second-hand shopping and editing theatre-related vlogs for her YouTube channel. Dedicated to Kristine MacKay-Guardino. 
Katie Schneider-Thomas*Katie Schneider-Thomas (she/her) (Assistant Director/Intimacy Choreographer) is a graduating senior studying Theatre and Communication with a minor in German. This is Katie’s ninth production with Aquinas and is thankful for all of the experience on and off stage she has had over the past four years. Favorite credits include Waking Nightmare (Director), Failure: A Love Story (Gerty), The Actor’s Nightmare (Intimacy/Fight Choreographer), The Thanksgiving Play (Logan), and Metamorphoses (Midas). After graduation, Katie plans to pursue a career in theatre while also working towards a master’s degree. “To my family and friends, thank you for everything!” 
Fiona WalshFiona Walsh (she/her) (Stage Manager) is currently a sophomore at Aquinas College. She is double majoring in Theatre and Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. Lizzie the Musical will be Fiona’s sixth show with Aquinas. Her previous credits include; The Actor’s Nightmare (SM), For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls (SM), Failure: A Love Story (ASM), and 9 to 5 (ASM) as well as working in the scene shop as a carpenter. When Fiona is not doing something with the theatre program, she is the secretary of Aquinas’ Student Senate.
Christiana WorthamsChristiana Worthams (she/her) (Assistant Stage Manager) is a first year student at AQ, and Lizzie is her second college production! She was previously the stage manager for Adventurers Anonymous. She thanks Annelise for giving her this opportunity as well as her friends and family for all the support.
Kelsey Edwards (she/her) (Technical Director) is a graduate of Adrian College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre. She has been involved in many productions as a technical director and stage manager. Kelsey is very excited to be working as technical director for this season at Aquinas College. She also has experience in scenic design, costume design, and property master. As of recent, Kelsey has worked on The Moors (2021), Blithe Spirit (2021), Spitfire Grill (2021), and Abigail/1702 (2022) as a technical director.
Jess Luiz (she/her) (Costume Designer) has been a member of the Grand Rapids theatre community for over a decade, participating as a costume designer, performer, props designer and audience member. She studied Theatre at Northern Michigan University. Her recent credits include 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Three Musketeers, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, and Sweeney Todd. Jess also serves as a teaching artist, sharing her love of storytelling and design through theatre arts with kids and adults of all abilities throughout the West Michigan area. She is grateful to her husband Jason for his support and their two kids for providing laughter, play, new ideas, and all the hugs. 
Chris Zaremba (he/him) (Lighting Designer) is a part-time student at Aquinas College in his senior year. He worked on Dracula as well as other shows at AQ. Christopher is going into technical theatre arts with an emphasis on light design. He works with IATSE, and has worked many shows at DeVos Hall, Van Andel Arena, Meijer Gardens, and many other venues. Aside from lighting, Christopher’s two loves are his dogs Theodora E. Bear (Teddy Bear) and Madame Chlovis (Chloe) his Australian Shepards. Christopher dedicates his work on this show to his biggest fan- his dad who passed away in 2022.
Selene Rezmer (she/her) (Sound Designer) has been doing shows in Grand Rapids since 2009, learning to fall in love with audio while exploring the glorious worlds that only theatre can provide. Selene graduated from Aquinas College in 2013 and has since spent most of her free time in various theaters around town, from Civic and Circle to Forest Hills Central and Caledonia. Some of her favorite shows that she has worked on include Chicago, Fun Home, The Addams Family, Caroline or Change, Young Frankenstein, Little Shop of Horrors, Reckless, Book of Days, and Rent. She thanks Kels and Vanessa for their unending love, especially when forced to listen to sound effects, songs, and voiceovers on repeat while shows are being worked on. 
Gabby Zeinstra (she/they) (Props Designer) is an alum of Aquinas where she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre with a technical emphasis. Gabby recently has prop designed Failure: A Love Story and the Student Directed One Acts at Aquinas, as well as stage managing Carrie The Musical with Betka-Pope Productions. Other recent credits also include Ensemble in 9 to 5 the musical at Aquinas College, Mother/Ensemble in Three Musketeers at Circle Theatre and working as a costume assistant to Jess Luiz for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Sweeney Todd. Gabby has previously worked behind the scenes with Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company, Ebony Road Players, and Civic Theatre. If she isn’t doing theatre, you can find Gabby at home cuddling her cat, making dinner or slinging drinks as a barista. She thanks her boyfriend Patrick for his unending support and her family and friends for their continuous encouragement.
Scott Harman (he/him) (Director of Production) is Assistant Professor of Theatre and Director of Theatre Production at Aquinas College. He is a PhD Candidate in Theatre at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also holds an MA in Theatre History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BA in Theatre and Dance from Alma College. He has taught at Grand Valley State University, Alma College, Parkland College, and he is a longtime summer faculty member at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. He has worked as an actor, director, technician, teacher, and playwright at various theatre companies and schools around the country. As a scholar and researcher, he works extensively on acting theory and pedagogy.
Penny Avery (she/her) (Theatre Program Director) is celebrating her 30th year at Aquinas College, having joined the faculty in 1994. She currently serves as both the Communication Department Chairperson and the Theatre Program Director with a PhD in Communication from Michigan State University and a MA and BS from Central Michigan University in Secondary Education with certification in English and Speech/Theatre. She was a member of the facility planning team when the Performing Arts Center was designed and loves to see the space being utilized to share arts with diverse audiences through Aquinas College’s partnerships with Community Circle Theatre and the Grand Rapids Catholic Schools. In her early years at AQ, she taught Children’s Theatre (suitably renamed Theatre for Youth and Education) and directed several productions, including The Great Cross Country Race and Charlotte’s Web.




Asst. Dialect Coach  Katie Schneider-Thomas
Graphic Design Shannon Heldt
Light Operator Chris Zaremba
Sound Operator Rhodey Matzke
Spotlight Gabby Aguilar
Deck Crew Alex Garcia, Megan Schnipke,
Kerrigan Smedley, Laura Walkendorf
Scene Shop Assistant Fiona Walsh
Theatre Office Assistant Katie Schneider-Thomas


SPECIAL THANK YOU to Avery Foster, Margot Foster, and Vee Kohlenberger for their voiceover work.


The Band

Conductor/Keys  Matty Owen
Guitar Eric Pennock
Bass Kate Zacharias
Cello Tyler Suttner
Drums Stephen Huseby


Director's Note

Lizzie Borden was a real person with real struggles, joys, and dreams. Although she was acquitted of the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden, no one else was ever charged, and the case remains unsolved. If Lizzie was guilty, we do not know what drove her to murder; we cannot know the intimate details of her relationships or her traumas. The real Lizzie Borden lived out the rest of her life under a haze of suspicion, and her story has spurred endless speculation with no clear answers. 

Lizzie: The Musical is another story. We take one possible version of events, add music, and ask the question: 

What if she did it, but she had a really good reason?

Some facts from the case that this show retains:

  1. Lizzie and Emma (“the girls”) had a distant relationship with their stepmother Abby Borden, whom they called Mrs. Borden.
  2. Andrew Borden was very wealthy and very cheap. Although Lizzie had multiple suitors in her youth, Andrew sent them away out of fear that they were merely looking to get a piece of his fortune. The girls were positioned as spinsters who relied on their father’s support completely.
  3. In the weeks before the murders, Andrew Borden slaughtered several pigeons in their barn, upsetting Lizzie who had built a roost for the birds and cared for them.
  4. On August 4th, 1892, Abby and Andrew Borden were killed in their home with a hatchet.
  5. The gossip of the time led to the creation of a schoolyard rhyme that spread widely during the time of Lizzie’s trial:

Lizzie Borden took an ax
Gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done
Gave her father forty-one 

Some points that this show offers as possibilities that are not, strictly speaking, verifiable:

1.     Lizzie was abused by her father. Rumors swirled and inferences were made, but this was never confirmed. In this telling of the story, this abuse is one factor fueling Lizzie’s crimes. The true part is that Mr. Borden wore a ring Lizzie gave him instead of a ring from his wife, which sparked gossip. 

2.     Lizzie was in a relationship with her neighbor, Alice Russell. Most people familiar with the case think that if there was a secret relationship, it was between Lizzie and the housekeeper, Bridget, but neither version of the story can be verified. However, the idea of Lizzie being discovered in a relationship with a woman and punished for it by her father remains a popular theory.

With these select hypotheticals in the mix, we climb inside Lizzie’s sense of hopeless claustrophobia and urgent fear of losing everything, and then we turn the dial up to eleven. In musical theatre, when talking isn’t enough to express what you’re feeling, you sing. When singing isn’t enough, you dance. In Lizzie, there’s an additional level: when singing and dancing aren’t enough, you grab a mic and put on a rock concert. Any time you can no longer contain your joy or fear or anger, it explodes out of you onto a stage in your own mind. Soon enough, the Victorian trappings fall away in favor of the gritty truth at the core of the matter. Through increasing flashes of modernity, we see parts of ourselves in this Lizzie: a woman in an impossible situation who did what she felt she had to do and was thrust into the spotlight as the focus of the very first Trial of the Century. 

So what if this was the only way out? What if, facing a choice between abuse and poverty, given her limited options as an unwed woman in 1892, Lizzie had to figure out a way to escape her father’s house in order to survive?  If you were trapped in that cage, what would you do to fly free?

Annelise Dickinson, 2024


The videotaping or audio and/or visual recording of this production is a violation of United States Copyright Law and an actionable federal offense. 

20 years of theatre at Aquinas College



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