Friday, October 24, 2008

"Assassins": just in time for an election

There’s a corny old saying about life imitating art. Suppose that now, just before a presidential election, somebody wanted to stage a musical comedy about historic presidential assassinations, including failed attempts. What would a producer say? “Are you out of your mind? Who needs another ‘Springtime for Hitler’?”

The fact is, though, that life is doing just that—imitating art. Artistic Differences Theatre Company is now offering “Assassins,” by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman. The setting is a carnival where people shoot at dummy ex-presidents in a shooting gallery.
Still, the premise revises an uncomfortable memory of a real incident that occurred at the Democratic convention in Denver. The authorities there frustrated a trio of assassins out to get Barack Obama.
The thrust of the current and the original versions of the show is to explore the motives and circumstances that lead to such desperate behavior. What’s more, I have it on reliable authority that the show is actually funny!

The original off-Broadway production ran from 1990 to 1993 to packed houses, but the projected Broadway effort, scheduled for 2001, was held back until 2004 in light of September 11. It earned six Tony nominations with five wins. According to Keith Riedell, director of the current production, the show “gives voice to the disenfranchised and the misfits of society – those for whom the American Dream is just that…a dream. Sondheim and Weidman have written an uniquely American, abeit twisted, patriotic show.”

“Assassins” runs through November 9 at the historic Eagle Theatre at 925 Front Street. Performances are Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m. (There’s no performance on Saturday, October 25.) Tickets are $18 general, $15 for students and seniors (65+). Call 916-708-3449 or click the title to this post.

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