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a Musical
by Stephen Sondheim & John Weidman

COMPANY : New London Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : New London Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4919

SHOWING : July 08, 2016 - July 24, 2016



A multiple Tony Award-winning theatrical tour-de-force, Assassins combines the Sondheim signature blend of intelligently stunning lyrics and beautiful music with a panoramic story of our culture of celebrity in America and the violent means some will use to obtain it, embodied by four successful and five would-be presidential assassins. Bold, original, disturbing, and alarmingly funny, Assassins is perhaps the most controversial musical ever written.

Assassins lays bare the lives of nine individuals who assassinated or tried to assassinate the President of the United States, in a one-act historical revusical that explores the dark side of the American experience. From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, writers Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman bend the rules of time and space, taking us on a nightmarish roller coaster ride in which assassins and would-be assassins from different historical periods meet, interact and inspire each other to harrowing acts in the name of the American Dream.

Cast John Berlo
Director Dawn Berlo
The Balladeer Loren Collins
Charles Guiteau Chris Freeman
Lee Harvey Oswald Aaron Glaze
Samuel Byck Lee Brewer Jones
John Wilkes Booth Bob Winstead
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Something, Just Broke
by playgoer
Monday, July 18, 2016
The songs Stephen Sondheim has written for "Assassins" require strong, true voices. When sung by tone-challenged community theatre performers, as is largely the case at New London Theatre, the songs suffer. John Weidman’s book scenes, although ably performed in large part, cannot compensate for the lackluster vocals in the songs. Songs and scenes tend to be intermixed, so even the strongest acting can be undone by underpowered singing.

Dawn Berlo has directed a production that doesn’t make full advantage of her set design. There’s a substantial platform stage right, which is great for sightlines for an audience on the flat, but the platform is woefully underused. The majority of scenes take place on chairs or on the floor at the lowest level of the stage, meaning blocked views for anyone with heads in the rows ahead of them. Action is fairly fluid, though. There’s a string of bunting on the back wall that is clearly not on the level, sloping down to audience right, but there’s no indication that this is intentional (which it may be). It just seems carelessly strung. The whole production seems haphazard and yet carefully rehearsed.

Lighting and sound by John Berlo (who also collaborated on the set design) are fine. Lighting clearly illuminates each scene, and there’s an interesting effect of the Zapruder footage of JFK’s assassination projected on the white tile ceiling of the playing space. The pre-recorded accompaniment tracks are played at an optimal volume. I particularly liked the chronological presidential campaign songs that played pre-show and at intermission.

Costumes are generally good, with nice period-appropriate touches in Robert Winstead’s John Wilkes Booth outfit and Chris Freeman’s Charles Guiteau outfit. Colonial-era dresses on some of the ensemble don’t really fit any of the time periods covered in the show, but otherwise an attempt has been made to match costume with the historical time period of the lifetime of each assassin (five of them) or attempted assassin (four of them). The disheveled Santa suit worn by Lee Brewer Jones as Samuel Byck adds greatly to his character, contrasting as it does with his hang-dog expression.

The only weak acting among the principals is from Kendra Gilbert as Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, and that’s as much a lack of projection as anything. The ensemble doesn’t fare so well, with only Jean Ann Bongiorno having the singing voice and expressiveness to make her few moments come to life.

The brightest spot in the production is Chris Freeman’s performance as Charles Guiteau. He may have the look of an impish leprechaun, but he has a terrific voice and moves very well, doing the closest to what could be called dance steps in the entire show. Teenager Casey Schuerman (as Leon Czolgosz) shows promise, and his trio with Messrs. Freeman and Winstead produces the only really good-sounding music in the show (aside from Mr. Freeman’s big solo, which is great-sounding). [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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