By Maxine Cohen
Everybody’s got the right to be happy. A motivational opener set to the tune of past infamous killers, Assassins the musical is a tale of twisted dreams. Join past and future presidential assassins as they share their successes and failures on stage in this Tony Award-winning production.
Set in a circus limbo, old killers and soon-to-bes come together as they are persuaded by the Proprietor to shoot a president. You want to find love? Kill the president. You want money? Kill the president.
This brings up the question, how far you were willing to go in order to get what you want? The American Dream is a time old story that has been past down for generations. Work hard and you will achieve is the right attitude.
However, in Assassins things are appearing as fractured or not quite right. Director Colleen Rua says “the American Dream oh but there’s this imperfect part to that. Why isn’t my American dream just pretty and perfect? There’s something not quite right.” The uneasiness displayed throughout will keep viewers at the edge of their seats, wondering how the scenes will play out.
Rua describes this musical American Dream having a “really funny side so it forces you to look at tragedy from different perspectives”. With a darker humor, Assassins will make the audience ask why does tragedy happen.
Rua’s cast and crew are working hard into their fourth week of rehearsal bringing life to the scenes. Rua says the cast’s energy is great and everyone sounds fantastic. With a mix of undergraduate levels, the cast is full of various levels of talent.
Rua is hoping to keep the audience on their seats in anticipation. Regardless if you know the outcome of the assassin’s goals, their story of how they get from point A to B will leave you silently rooting for their success. Everybody’s got the right to be happy?
With a story focusing heavily on gun use, Producer Matthew Greene has a special trick up his sleeve to add realism to this musical. Greene discusses how the actors will be using prop guns to get that chilling ‘pop’ that real guns have.
The guns have been transformed from real to fake, only firing off blanks. Greene says he has seen it done “where it’s a little more tongue-in-cheek where everybody has a gun” motions his hand into a gun, “it doesn’t have the same impact.” All actors are working heavily with a detective on proper gun handling and safety due to the nature of the prop.
It may appear hard to find a connection with a story of killing the figurehead of the United States, but Rua believes there is still a relevance in this story. “I think that the sort of the theme of disenfranchisement, and entitlement, and the culture of gun violence is really relevant in our world today” Rua explains as she discusses how the musical explores those themes.
Gun violence is a growing concern in the United States, especially with students with the amount of shootings that have been going on in various school systems. Greene also says how interesting it is to see characters being seduced by violence turning “this person we thought was just like us turns into one of history’s greatest monsters.” This musical depicts the lengths human nature is willing to go in order to gain their version of happiness.
Assassins is coming to Bridgewater State University this October, just in time to celebrate Halloween. Opening night is October 24, 2014. Book by John Weidman, Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. More information to follow.
Maxine Cohen is a Comment contributor.