ASSASSINS – Misfits of the American Dream

23233_show_landscape_large_01It’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.

AASSASINSSondheim’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.

AssassinsAssassins 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.


 

La Cage Aux Folles presented by BAY AREA MUSICALS!

BAMLaCageThe newly formed theatre organization, BAY AREA MUSICALS! is closing its inaugural season with multiple Tony Award winning play, La Cage Aux Folles. The show written by Harvey Fierstein (book) and Jerry Herman (music and lyrics) revolves around Georges (Clay David), the owner of Saint-Tropez drag cabaret “La Cage Aux Folles”, his lover Albin (Michael RJ Campbell) who is also the clubs headliner as Zaza, and his son Jean-Michel (Jack O’Reilly) who’s recently announced his engagement to Anne Dindon (Bessie Zolno), daughter of hypocrite politician Edouard Dindon (Cameron Weston).

We see the relationship between Georges and Albin/Zaza and how sometimes it affects showtime. Zaza is being begged to go onstage as the other performers are using delay tactics to keep the audience entertained. Georges brings the tenderness level up to a ten to ensure his Albin, that his wishes will be honored and then, Zaza goes on to rounds of applause. We see many loving moments between the two throughout the show which is still taboo for some audience members. A family in front of me had an unpleasant discussion during intermission but luckily stayed to the end. The son was upset by the choice even though he could be seen chuckling many times. Even in theatre it’s rare to have a story center around a couple from the LGBT community. The other element of this story revolves around Jean-Michel and the fact that he was raised by both of them. He’s about to take a big step in his life and doesn’t want Albin (who raised him) there, why?

BAMLaCage242Jean-Michel is concerned with impressing Anne’s parents who portray themselves as a traditional, good, wholesome family. He says that Anne is not like her parents but he’s still eager for their blessings. He requests that Georges invite his biological mother to the family dinner and tell Albin why he “can’t” have him there. He also wanted the decor changed to more “appropriate” ones. When we finally meet Mr. Dindon, we find that he’s extremely disrespectful to his wife Marie (Mary Gibboney). He bosses her around and dismisses her frequently, which is not the definition of a wholesome family in my book. His platform centers around shutting down all places his followers deem sinful and not family-friendly, like a cabaret with drag queens.

BAM_La_Cage_001After much hesitation, Georges finally tells Albin the situation and of course he doesn’t take it well. The boy he raised is ashamed of him and admits to past embarrassments he never mentioned in his youth. Albin has always been there while Jean-Michel’s biological mom has never been and ends up cancelling once again at the last minute. Despite the emotional blow to Albin, he steps up to the plate to help Jean-Michel out but I’ll leave it at that. You have to go watch the show to see what love can sometimes make you do. It’s a story of how we sometimes take for granted those that love us for those that merely surround us. It’s also important to be true to ourselves and live our lives authentically as Albin/Zaza does without question.

I’d also like to mention that David was in character as soon as one entered the door. He welcomed audience members to La Cage Aux Folles and took selfies with a few. He stood out for me, as some of the other actors seem to struggle with their character accents. However, he and Campbell had great chemistry together. I could see them performing together again in a future show! The score includes such songs as “The Best of Times is Now”, “Song In the Sand”, “La Cage Aux Folles”, and “I Am What I Am.” Go watch it! You only have one weekend left. 

Show Details:
Direction and Choreography by Matthew McCoy
Musical Direction by Jon Gallo

Location:
VICTORIA THEATRE
2961 16TH STREET
San Francisco, CA 94103

Showtimes:
Evening Performances: Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays at 8:00PM 

Matinee Performances: Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00PM
Closing: Sunday, July 31st at 2:00PM

Tickets available at the box office or online: http://www.bamsf.org/boxoffice