Murder always makes for a fascinating story. It’s even better when it fleshes out some of America’s sordid history. Gilbert Theater’s opening production takes a look at those devilish folks who use guns rather than pens as a means of making history, i.e., the assassins of the Presidents of the United States of America.
    {mosimage}From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, creators Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman bend the rules of time and space, taking us on a rollercoaster ride in which assassins and would-be assassins from different historical periods meet, interact and ultimately inspire each other to harrowing acts in the name of the American Dream. In exploration of the dark side of the American experience, Assassins is bold, surreal, scary, yet still ridiculously funny.
Director Marcela Casals is pleased with the outcome of the production. The feeling is that though the subject matter is dark, just when you think the play is belly up (pun intended) it slices a smile across your face from its sick wit.
    Originally, Sondheim and Weidman intended to explore the lives of assassins throughout history beginning with Brutus and Julius Caesar. Considering the massive number of murderers in history, they became overwhelmed and realized it better to shorten their scope. As the project developed, their task soon became clear — to dramatize the unpopular thesis that the most notorious killers in our culture are as much a product of that culture as the famous leaders they attempt and successfully murder.
    Casals noted that “It’s very funny, but it’s very dark,” said Casals. “Sondheim is very good at putting two things completely opposite each other together.”
    She said the play gives the audience the opportunity to see inside the heads of some very mad individuals. She explained that many of these individuals were either depressed or confused, while others thought they were doing a service to the country.
    “Through this musical, you get to see inside their heads and see how they got to that point. There is a lot of humor, even though there is a lot of darkness.”
    She noted that each of these individuals thought they were going to change the course of history. For some, like Wilkes Booth and Oswald, their names have become pieces of the American lexicon. For others, they simply had their five minutes of fame and then slipped away.
    She said that she had gathered a “fabulous” cast of men and women to fill the ensemble and the leads. “Their voices just blend beautifully,” she said. “They just sound fabulous.”
    She cautioned that the play does have some offensive language, but hopes that it does not put people off from coming to a performance. “It’s a part of our history,” she said. “And we hope that high school students and others who have a love for history will come and see the show.”
    Tickets for the show are $12. The play opens Oct. 2-19. The theater is at 116 Green St., above Fascinate-U Children’s Museum. Call 678-7186 or e-mail for more information.

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