It’s an interesting time to bring Stephen Sondheim’s musical, Assassins, to the stage. A play about people who decided it’s their life’s purpose to kill a president. It took 14 years for the show to be received on Broadway, and went on to win 5 Tony Awards. Still, theatres have often shied away from producing the show with its provocative topic, scenes with gun pointing at the audience and “accidental” stage shootings (blanks, of course) that will leave some audience members rattled. It only seems natural that newly formed Bay Area Musicals! chose to take that risk to open up their second season.
The focus is on the potential motivations of nine individuals that assassinated or attempted to assassinate the President of the United States. What drive’s someone to kill a president? Is it ideology, love, fame, a desire to sell more books? Sondheim has given these characters a voice that some won’t care to hear or may see it as glorifying their pursuits. The unfortunate part, these are stories woven into the fabric of American History and its culture. It doesn’t matter if you want to acknowledge it; it happened and needs to be told.
Sondheim’s created a catchy score to shift you in and out of each person’s disturbing story. Time periods are intermingled, allowing each of the character’s to meet and convince one another that what they’re doing is essential to the American Dream. At one point John Hinckley Jr., (Zac Schuman ) who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan to prove his love to Jodi Foster, asks Lee Harvey Oswald (Sage G.C.), former U.S. Marine who assassinated President John F. Kennedy about 18 years prior to Hinckley’s attempt, for his autograph due to his deep admiration for Oswald while growing up.
The entire cast was good but Sage G.C. stood out as Lee Harvey Oswald. He played a balladeer as well but that performance was not as strong. Notable performances also came from Kelli Schultz (Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme) and Jessica Fisher (Sara Jane Moore) who played derange and neurotic. Lynette Fromme was obsessed with Charles Manson and Sara Jane Moore was angry at the state of affairs, both targeted U.S. President Gerald Ford. In the play they join forces, but in history their attempts occurred 17 days apart. They are the only women to have ever attempted to assassinate a president. One thing is for sure when watching Assassins, it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who can take it in, it’s an interesting psychological journey.
Assassins will perform February 18–March 18, 2017 at San Francisco’s Alcazar Theatre (650 Geary Street). Performances are Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m. Single tickets for regular performances range in price from $35–$60. Tickets are available now by calling 415-340-2207 or visiting www.bamsf.org.
Assassins contains strong language and mature themes. Parental discretion is highly advised.
ABOUT BAY AREA MUSICALS!
Bay Area Musicals! is a professional theater company that stimulates and inspires the San Francisco community through high-caliber musical theater ranging from familiar classics to challenging new works. Bay Area Musicals’ mission is to produce professional musical theater at accessible ticket rates and to engage the community through performance, outreach, and educational opportunities.