Book by John Weidman
Music and Lyrics by Steven Sondheim
Directed by Angela Cotto
Starring Iris M. Johnson, Scott Gilbert, and Gabriel Garcia
Winter Park, FL
I’ve never seen Larry Stallings take so much lead and still sing all the way to the playout. In these tempestuous times, “Assassins” is a provocative look at your ultimate Second Amendment right: The removal of president by individual force. Assassination has a long history in politics, and here we peer in to the minds of those infamous enough to at least give the revolution a shot. Leading the pack, we meet John Wilkes Booth (Garcia), the failed southern actor claiming revenge for the Civil War. He has a manifesto, a cause and the most dangerous rational of any of these warped patriots: He killed a man for a bad review. Some act for social justice (Leon Czologoz played by Aiden Bohan-Moulton), some despise the system (Rob Del Medico as Samuel Byck), and some do it because their stomach hurts (Jon Jimenez as Giuseppe Zangara). The two women here (Rebecca McVeigh as “Squeaky” Fromme and Carol Jaqueline Palumbo as Sara Jane Moore) seem the craziest, and at the end everybody pig piles Lee Harvey Oswald (Gilbert) encouraging him to take down Kennedy.
These slightly unhinged reformers all appeared as distinctly delineated individuals. Highlights include Ms. Palumbo throwing bullets and yelling “Bang!” at president Ford (played by the nearly immortal Mr. Stallings.) Del Medico’s Byck sounded exactly like a late-night talk radio host, and Tommy Schwanfelder (Guiteau) sounded as sane as a TV anchor as he insisted on his destiny in the diplomatic corp. An angry Iris Johnson took the role as an MC and referee, and Mr. Gilbert seemed rather goofy in Act One, but bucked up and stood tall when offered the chance to assassinate a president instead of just offing himself in a warehouse. The songs resound in this under attended production; and like all Breakthrough musicals, the singing will never leave you wanting.