note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Beverly Creasey
To embroider on Stephen Sondheim’s principal notion in ASSASSINS (at the BCA through Aug. 7th): “Everybody’s got the right” to subscribe to the “magic bullet” theory if they want to, I guess. The Sondheim/ Weidman musical proposes that “the real conspiracy” is the unacknowledged collective unconscious of the downtrodden in American history, whose only recourse in the face of injustice is Presidential assassination. No wonder folks have issues with this one!
You can fault the reasoning behind the musical but you can’t fault Company One’s first rate production, from Nik Walker’s searing performance as the Balladeer to David DaCosta’s confederate firebrand , John Wilkes Booth. Ed Hoopman gives Leon Czolgosz (McKinley’s assassin) a sweet vulnerability and Jonathan Popp makes Lee Harvey Oswald a distraught, even pitiable loner.
Sondheim weaves together a tapestry of diverse musical styles but you’ll mostly be reminded of other Sondheim shows. Guiseppe Zangara (Blake L. Pfeil), who attempted to shoot F.D.R., sounds a lot like Pirelli in SWEENEY TODD. Sarah Jane Moore (Elizabeth Rimar), Gerald Ford’s would-be assassin, reminded me of Cinderella in INTO THE WOODS. Director Shawn LaCount gets spot-on performances from the whole cast, with cheeky comic relief from Christopher Ignacio, Mason Sand, Rimar and McCaela Donovan. Music director Jose Delgado gets fine singing for the whole shooting match.
COMPANY ONE is about to embark on its tenth season of presenting smart, cutting edge theater. If you haven’t seen one of their productions yet, start now. You’ll get more bang for your buck for sure with ASSASSINS.