Assassins States Everybody’s Got The Right To Be Happy or Do They?
” I did it because it was wrong for one man To have so much service when other men have none…”
Before it even opened Classic Stage Company announced that it had added three more weeks of performances to its highly anticipated production of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Assassins, directed by CSC’s Tony Award-winning artistic director, John Doyle.
“I did it because no one cared about the poor man’s pain…”
As I entered the theatre I was struck with the fact the scaffolding was missing. This version of Sondheim’s dark, Tony award winning musical is star-studded. They all wear American flag masks when not performing. Does this symbolize that we have lost our voices? It would have been nice if they had mic’d the actors, so we could really hear their magnificent voices. Alas they did not.
“I did it to make people listen.”
The stage is an American flag, Emma Goldman (Bianca Horn) carries a folded American flag with stripes of blood streaming over it. The President’s Seal is like a roulette table to the which the President at hand lands on. John Doyle’s Americana set is as always minimalistic, but this time it works.
“And it didn’t help the workers
And it didn’t heal the country
And it didn’t make them listen
And they never said, “We’re Sorry”
Assassins starts off with John Wilkes Booth (Steven Pasquale) and ends with Lee Harvey Oswald (Ethan Slater), who in this production is also “The Balladeer.” Altogether, nine men and women have tried to either kill or assassinate a President of the United States and this is their stories. Here we meet Leon Czolgosz (a heartbroken Brandon Uranowitz), John Hinckley (a understated and withdrawn Adam Chanler-Berat), Charles Guiteau (a hysterical Will Swenson), Giuseppe Zangara (a wild-eyed Wesley Taylor), Samuel Byck (a winning Andy Grotelueschen), Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme (a perfect Tavi Gevinson), and Sara Jane Moore (a comedic Judy Kuhn). Though these actors are all fabulous singers, what is spectacular here is the scene work. The acting stands out.
“There are those who love regetting,
There are those who like extremes,
There are those who thrive on chaos and despair.
There are those who keep forgetting
How the country’s buitl on dreams”
Damn my soul if you must
Let my body turn to dust
Let it mingle with the ashes of the country
Let them curse me to hell
Leave it to history to tell:
What I did, I did well
And I did it for my country
Assassins at this time is alarmingly haunting as this show asks you where is the line between happiness and becoming unhinged is drawn? This country is so discontented that the cracks are becoming visible and wider on a daily bases. Is the next assassin just a breath away? The ensemble wear prison jumpsuits; does this mean we are all entrapped in a prison of our own making?
Slater is a standout playing acoustic guitar and mandolin. As the Balladeer, he is the sardonic voice of the piece. As Oswald he is the outsider wanting in. As Booth urges him to join this select group, we see the slow change that can turn a man into an instant to killer.
Pasquale gives Booth dignity and a quiet strength, but it is Will Swenson’s tick-filled, on the verge of a nervous breakdown Guiteau, that gives the show its energy.
Kudos to Eddie Cooper as “The Proprietor” and the hard working ensemble; Brad Giovanine, Whit K. Lee, Rob Morrison and Katrina Yaukey, who not only play instruments, but act and sing well.
Assassins has much to say and it is depressing, insightful and thought provoking.
Assassins: Classic Stage Company, 136 E. 13th St. through Saturday, January 29, 2022.
Broadway’s A Doll’s House Meticulously Stunning Revival Soars Like a Birdie Above That Clumsy Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
For a revival to find its footing, it has to have a point of view or a sense of purpose far beyond an actor’s desire to perform a part, whether it suits them or not. It needs to radiate an idea that will make us want to sit up and pay attention. To feel its need to exist. And on one particular day in March, I was blessed with the opportunity to see not just one grande revival, but two. One was a detailed pulled-apart revolutionary revival of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House that astounded. The other, unfortunately, was a clumsy revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that fell lazily from that high-wired peak – not for a lack of trying, but from a formulation that never found its purpose.
Theatre News: Smash, I Need That, Good Night, Oscar, Funny Girl, This Beautiful Lady and In The Trenches: A Parenting Musical
The NBC television series Smash is coming to Broadway for the 2024-2025 season. Robert Greenblatt, Neil Meron and Steven Spielberg will produce. The musical will feature a book co-written by three-time Tony Award nominee Rick Elice and Tony winner Bob Martin. Tony and Grammy winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Some Like It Hot). The team earned three Emmy nominations for their songs from the “Smash” series will pen the score, which will feature numbers from the TV show.
Five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman (New York, New York) will direct and Tony nominee and Emmy Award winner Joshua Bergasse will choreograph.
The series was created by Theresa Rebeck and Spielberg, launch the series. Spielberg is also one of the co-producers of Good Night, Oscar, which begins performances at the Belasco Theatre on April 7.
Official dates, theater, creative team and casting for the “Smash” stage musical will be announced at a later date.
Speaking of the Pulitzer Prize finalist playwright Theresa Rebeck, Danny DeVito and Lucy DeVito are set to star in her new play I Need That at the Roundabout. The new comedy will be directed by Tony nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel which will open at the American Airlines Theatre in October. The cast will also include Ray Anthony Thomas. … Also newly announced for Roundabout’s new Broadway season is a spring 2024 revival of Samm-Art Williams’ 1980 Tony-nominated play “Home.” Tony winner Kenny Leon will direct
Speaking of Good Night, Oscar, Doug Wright’s play was named finalist for 2023 new play award by The American Theatre Critics Association. The other six finalists for the 2023 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award include: Born With Teeth by Liz Duffy Adams, the ripple, the wave that carried me home by Christina Anderson, Sally & Tom by Suzan-Lori Parks, Spay by Madison Fiedler and
Swing State by Rebecca Gilman.
Paolo Montalban and Anne L. Nathan are joining Lea Michele in Funny Girl as Florenz Ziegfield and Mrs. Strakosh. Montalban and Nathan will replace original cast members Peter Francis James and Toni DiBuono, who take their final bows on March 26th.
Elizabeth Swados’ This Beautiful Lady will play at La MaMa this May. Previews will begin May 5 for the Off-Broadway run ahead of the May 8 press opening, with performances set through May 28 in the Ellen Stewart Theatre.
In The Trenches: A Parenting Musical, with book, music, and lyrics by Graham & Kristina Fuller, will receive industry readings on Friday, March 24th at 11am & 3pm at Ripley Grier Studios. The readings will be directed by Jen Wineman (Dog Man: The Musical) and will feature music direction by Rebekah Bruce (Mean Girls) and arrangements by Dan Graeber, Graham & Kristina Fuller.
The cast of In The Trenches features Amanda Jane Cooper (Wicked), Jelani Remy (The Lion King, Ain’t Too Proud), Christine Dwyer (Wicked), Caesar Samayoa (Come From Away), Max Crumm (Grease, Disaster!), and Vidushi Goyal.Join two bleary-eyed young parents as they trudge through the trenches and discover their new post-baby identities. In an evening of new-parent greatest hits, a foul-mouthed toddler zeroes in on “the most dangerous thing in the room”, tap dancing towards bleach, knives, and tide pods; a chronically-overlooked younger sibling sings the “second child blues”; a mom trio celebrates yoga pants in an R&B love song to the “official mom uniform”; dad discovers he’s not the “ice-cream and movie-night cool parent” but rather the “do your homework real parent” amid a kiddo sugar-crash; and mom retrieves a sticky, hair-covered pacifier from the floor of a LaGuardia bathroom while her baby screams bloody murder and her flight boards without her.
Jason Robert Brown, Chuck Cooper, Janet Dacal, Sutton Foster, Lillias White and More To Perform at TheaterWorksUSA Spring Gala
TheaterWorksUSA, currently presenting the hit family show Dog Man The Musical at New World Stages, will host its annual Spring Gala on Monday, April 24 (cocktails begin at 6 PM) at The Current at Chelsea Piers.
100% of the net proceeds from the event will support our mission to create exceptional, transformative theatrical experiences that are accessible to young and family audiences in diverse communities across New York City and North America.
This year TWUSA will honor Lisa Chanel (TWUSA Board Chair 2019-2022), Andréa Burns (Award-winning Broadway actress & educator), Peter Flynn (TWUSA alumnus and award-winning director, writer, and educator), and Holly McGhee (Founder and Creator of Pippin Properties, New York Times best selling author). The event will feature appearances by some of Broadway’s biggest stars, including Jason Robert Brown, Chuck Cooper, Janet Dacal, Kevin Del Aguila, Sutton Foster, Lillias White and more.
On behalf of TheaterWorksUSA’s Board of Directors, we are thrilled to celebrate the people who have generously supported our mission, making it possible for us to bring high-quality theater to young audiences of all backgrounds throughout the country. We look forward to recognizing Lisa, Andréa, Peter, and Holly publicly at this very special event. – Tracy A. Stein, Board Chair
It’s a privilege to honor these individuals for playing such an important role in the work we do. Their vision, creativity, and ongoing commitment to our mission is truly something to celebrate. They are very much a part of our TheaterworksUSA family.- Barbara Pasternack, Artistic Director
TheaterWorksUSA (Barbara Pasternack, Artistic Director; Michael Harrington, Executive Director) has led the Theater for Young and Family Audiences movement in New York City and across North America for over half a century. At TWUSA, we believe that access to art—and theater, in particular—is vital for our youth. Since 1961, the 501(c)3 not-for-profit has captured the imaginations of 100 million new and veteran theatergoers with an award-winning repertoire of over 140 original plays and musicals. Acclaimed alumni include Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Disney’s Frozen), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Rent), Jerry Zaks (The Music Man), Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen), Miguel Cervantes (Hamilton), Kathleen Chalfant (Angels in America), and Chuck Cooper (Tony award-winning actor, The Life). WWW.TWUSA.ORG
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