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Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of ASSASSINS at Signature Theatre?


Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of ASSASSINS at Signature Theatre?

Sondheim's Assassins recently opened at Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia. The production runs through September 29, 2019 in The MAX space.

To kick off the 30th anniversary season, Signature Theatre produces our 30th Sondheim musical with the daring and darkly funny Tony Award®-winning musical exposé - Assassins.

From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, nine would-be and successful presidential assassins inspire each other to pull the trigger and change their worlds in a perverse, wry and thrillingly entertaining vaudeville.

Directed by Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer, a cast of Signature favorites including Nova Y. Payton, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Evan Casey, Bobby Smith and others explore Sondheim's stunning music and sardonic lyrics in a fascinating examination of the twisted American Dream.

Read what the critics had to say!

Elliot Lanes, BroadwayWorld: Christopher Bloch performance as Samuel Byck is a master class in acting. Byck tried to hijack a plane and then thought he would fly it into the White House to kill President Richard Nixon. He had sent tape recordings to Leonard Bernstein and other notables and suffered from depression. Bloch's two monologues capture this tortured soul perfectly. His performance is a prime example of the right actor and the right character. It's the perfect marriage.

Peter Marks, Washington Post: It is [Bobby] Smith's dementedly serene Guiteau, assassin of James Garfield, though, who most exhilaratingly embodies the show's ethos, revealed in equal parts gun smoke and madness. "I am going to the Lordy," he sings on the way to his execution, as if flights of angels are accompanying him. You'll find the barbarity of "Assassins," distilled by Sondheim's refined sense of the absurd, a weirdly enjoyable dive into crazy.

Amy Kotkin, DC Metro Theater Arts: Virtually everyone in this fine production deserves a rave. Vincent Kempski as the vainglorious Booth is the pioneer and ringleader, goading the others on to assume their exalted place in history. In "The Gun Song" he and others ruminate on how easy it is to "move your little finger to change the world." Lawrence Redmond as the soulful Czolgosz moves us closer to empathy than perhaps any other character. His brief but gorgeous scene with his idol, the radical Emma Goldman (Maria Rizzo), offers a convincing case for class war.

Mary Ann Johnson, MD Theatre Guide: "Assassins" is directed by Eric Schaeffer; his vision includes a worn, very tall, forbidding wall of wood that encapsulates the stage. It's very height seems to weigh down on these desperate people and emphasizes their smallness in a cold world. The set design is by James Kronzer, who also places a crumbling, ghostly replica of the presidential box at Ford's Theater anchoring stage left.

Sara Dudley Brown, The Zebra: The brilliant set designer, James Kronzer, costume designer, Kathleen Geldard, wig designers, Alison Samantha Johnson and Austin Blake Conlee plus lighting designer, Chris Lee, through apparent simplicity have created a versatile and otherworldly place for these deranged souls in which the audience can appreciate and get to know them, one by one in mostly chronological order, with the exception of Lee Harvey Oswald who is examined last.

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