Soundheim musical makes Stamford premiere

contributed photo/Curtain Call

Some historical events leave an indelible impact on those living at the time: 9/11 being one such that many of us can relate to. The assassination of John F. Kennedy being another. But it takes a musical genius like Stamford’s former resident, Stephen Sondheim, to weave presidential assassins – and would-be assassins – into a musical.

Area residents will have a chance to see Sondheim’s work when Curtain Call, Stamford’s longest running and only year round producing theatre will present ASSASSINS in the Kweskin Theatre for three weekends beginning June 2. Due to language, themes and violence, this production is not recommended for younger audiences.

“I have been a huge history buff and Sondheim fan for many years, so I really like the quirky story-telling of ASSASSINS,” said Lou Ursone, Curtain Call’s executive director and producer of the show. “It is definitely not your typical toe-tapping musical comedy, but a Sondheim musical that profiles John Wilkes Booth, (who shot Lincoln), Charles Guiteau, (James Garfield), Leon Czolgsoz, (William McKinley), Lee Harvey Oswald, (John F. Kennedy), as well as lesser-known individuals who didn’t succeed in their missions: Sarah Jane Moore and Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, (Gerald Ford), John Hinkley, (Reagan), Giuseppe Zangara, (FDR), and Sam Byck, (Richard Nixon) is just too hard to pass up.” Ursone added.

“What is so intriguing about this musical is that Sondheim writes the most gorgeous lyrics for people who have done or attempted to do a most heinous act,” said the show’s director, Debra Lee Failla. (Failla has been directing at Curtain Call for nearly 25 years and has done everything from family friendly shows like JOSEPH…DREAMCOAT to zany comedies and now this.)

Ursone and Failla agree that ASSASSINS is one of the most controversial musicals written. “It touches on so many issues in our society which we see haven’t changed much over our country’s history – gun violence, mental health, class issues, views on immigrants,” Failla said.

Joining Failla on the creative team are Tony Bellomy – music director, Peter Barbieri, Jr. – set design, Megan Latte Morello – costume design and Adam Lobelson – lighting design. The production team also includes Jordan Michael Hensley, Ryan Tice, Jan Ursone and Gail Yudain.

The cast includes: Adam Bloom – John Hinkley, Jr., Amanda Bloom – Sara Jane Moore, Danny Charest – Samuel Byck, Matt Garvey-Haas – Balladeer/Lee Harvey Oswald, Cara Kramer – Emma Goldman, Anthony Laszlo – Giuseppe Zangara, Eric Marquez – Proprietor, Ethan Parsons – Leon Czolgosz, Rob Rosado – John Wilkes Booth, Jennifer Silverman – Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, Michael Valinoti – Charles Guiteau and ensemble members Emmet Bloom, Katie Carriero, Robert Failla, Justin McArthur, Rob Nichols, Ava Sabloff, William Squier, Kathryn Tracy.

“Much like one of my other favorite historical musicals, 1776, ASSASSINS uses actual dialog from these very real people…language that may not be socially acceptable today, but accurate to the time,” Ursone noted. Failla added: “And yes there is comedy in this dark musical. Because you cannot have dark without light. And Sondheim is brilliant at finding the humor in a dark, twisted situation.”(Sondheim’s other dark musical – the murderous, man-eating masterpiece, SWEENEY TOD, is currently enjoying another Broadway revival.)

“We’re not looking for audiences to agree with the assassins’ motives but to take a step back, see these people and their thoughts and reasons; listen and look at why these individuals did what they did,” Failla said. Sondheim and book writer, John Weidman, propose that these eight individuals are victims of our society’s high expectations and false promises of an American Dream.

Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00pm, and Sunday matinees at 2:00pm beginning June 2. There are also two Thursday evening performances (8:00pm) June 8 and 15. Tickets are available through the box office at 203-461-6358 or online at Prices for all performances are $38 for adults, $28 for senior citizens and $20 for children under 21. The Kweskin Theatre is located at The Sterling Farms Theatre Complex, 1349 Newfield Avenue, Stamford, CT. Doors open one half hour before show time.

ASSASSINS is presented by special arrangement with Music Theatre International with support from the CT Office of the Arts, CT Humanities, CT Department of Economic Development, and the Britta and Denis J Nayden Charitable Foundation, in cooperation with The CIty of Stamford.

Curtain Call was voted Fairfield County’s BEST LOCAL THEATRE GROUP ten years running in the Annual Readers’ Poll of the Fairfield County Weekly and has received similar “BEST OF” awards from Stamford Magazine and StamfordPlus magazine for 2008 through 2018. Curtain Call received The Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2011 and the ACE Award for Excellence in Arts & Culture from the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County in 2016.

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