By Natalie C. McGovern, News Editor
Hit the Prez. Win a prize.
The last production of “Assassins” Saturday evening invited the audience in with the revels of faded glory, a wooden plank stage and carnival-esque scenery.
The dark charm of the carny caters to the misunderstood and notorious assassins throughout history to “keep their dreams in sight” and “win a prize.”
“Everybody’s got the right to be different, happy,” the ensemble sang. “Aim for what you want, everybody gets a shot.”
The panacea for ending all human suffering is the simplest and most logical solution: to kill the president.
The sign on the carnival marquee beckons to passersby and bystanders, alluring them to try their hand at committing the most heinous of acts. Come one, come all, its a dirty free-for-all for each assassin, from John Wilkes Booth to John Hinckley. As each accepts the murderous challenge, you get a glimpse into their psyche and the soul of the American psychopath.
The early introduction of characters in a formation line is reminiscent of “Rent’s” opening number “Seasons of Love” as the characters stand and sing, bellowing out melodies, making a metaphorical stand as well in their cause for symbolic freedom.
Ironically, no violence is encouraged by the villainous Proprieter, played by Mike Palmreuter, as he tempts the likes of Colosgozc, Hinckley, Giteau and Zengara to “step right up, shoot a president and win a prize.”
Satire abounded in volumes, and the production was performed without an intermission.
Vignettes throughout history of each assassination or attempt are played out in the songs, exemplified by the satirical musings of a happy-go-lucky balladeer, played by Aaron Ellis. The balladeer serves as the metaphorical voice for each character in this abstract production of meshed time periods melded into one connecting theme: insanity justified by the concept that “you’ll have an effect that you’re going to connect.”
Ben Beck portrayed Booth as a humanistic yet tainted actor whose only justification for his actions are that the country will be better off without President Lincoln.
Booth, willing to sacrifice himself, sang a heartfelt ballad about killing the man who killed his country. He displays his anarchist spirit, referencing himself as a vindicator, declaring he slewed the tyrant just as “Brutus slewed the tyrant.”
The morbidly infused love ballad “Unworthy of your Love” is a throwback to the 70s ballads as Hinckley and Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, played by Maggie Wilken profess their undying love to their object of desire, and obsession.
Some characters who stood out were Samuel Byck, played by Steve Hartman, the disgruntled tire salesman who dons a Santa suits and plans to rue the day by crashing his plane into the White House, and Fromme, the lover of Charles Manson, adamant about her humanistic causes and willingly enslaved to her lover as she pledges her allegiance to the criminal she loves.
Jack Landrie, who played Guiseppe Zangara, the Italian immigrant whose assassination attempts resulted in Death Row, was neurotic and entertaining as he sang about his no regrets up until his execution.
The parody numbers combined with the somber nature and significance of the historical assassination events paint a dark picture of the effect it had on a nation. “Assassins” makes you think about something: the motivation for why the insane and mundane had the nerve to attempt or successfully assassinate presidents throughout history, and the cost of the American dream