Stephen Sondheims’ Assassins Gave Us Insights into How Differently We View the American Dream
Somewhere in time, nine U.S. Presidential assassins and attempted assassins–each from a different point in history–cross boundaries of time and space to arrive at a carnival, managed by the Proprietor, the deux ex machina of their darker personaes. The Proprietor sees their motivations, pulls the strings, manipulating them to commit the assassination they only contemplated before that point. Here, each assassin has the ability to influence the other. Here, each assassin can tell his or her personal story.
The collective consciousness of America is personified by The Balladeer, who tells the perspective of the nation… how each was viewed, how these individuals must have been insane to harbor such fantastical thoughts that assassination would somehow have the desired impact they sought.
Meanwhile, the assassins tell their stories. To hear them explain it… the goal which each assassination was to accomplish would fulfill their personal American dream: to make physical pain disappear, to gain relevance, to justify his/her own abilities, to further personal promotion or achieve some larger political gain. Each convinced themselves that only assassination of an American President could allow that to occur.
Assassins looks at how we define ourselves as individuals, as a nation, and the interpretation of the American Dream, even during his worst hours.
A multiple Tony Award-winning theatrical tour-de-force, Assassins combines Sondheim’s signature blend of intelligently stunning lyrics and beautiful music with a panoramic story of our nation’s culture of celebrity and the violent means some will use to obtain it. Embodied by four successful and five would-be American presidential assassins, this bold, original, disturbing, and alarmingly funny work is perhaps the most controversial musical ever written.
Petite Opera, with its focus on classically trained voices, gathered an incredible cast to voice the hopes, fears and furies of these intriguing figures by exposing the twisted thoughts that brought them to acts of violence.
Music and Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
Book by: John Weidman
Based on an idea by: Charles Gilbert, Jr.
Stage Director: Cathy Dunn
Musical Director: Cody Michael Bradley
Proprietor: Steven Arvanites
Leon Czolgosz: Andrew Buel
John Hinckley, Jr: Austin Illenberg
Charles Guiteau: Brian Charles
Giuseppe Zangara: Jonathan Wilson
Samuel Byck: Mark Anderson
Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme: Sara Costello
Sara Jane Moore: Katherine Dalin
John Wilkes Booth: Douglas Balkin
The Balladeer: Matthew Peckham
David Herold: Joshua Heinlein
Emma Goldman: Franki Levenson-Campanale
Billy: Tim Wilcox
Lee Harvey Oswald: Matthew Peckham
Various Bystanders, Reporters, Tourists: Samantha Attaguile, Teaira Burge, Erin Carney, Joseph Heinlein, Joseph Wesolowski, Tim Wilcox.
Petite Opera Productions Assassins musical looks at how we define ourselves as individuals, as a nation, and the interpretation of the American Dream, even during its worst hours.
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