Assassins invites audiences into infamous lives

Some of history's most hated figures recently shared their side of the story, as the Alan Case and Sarah Rychlik-directed play Assassins was performed by Geneseo's Vocal Miscellany from Jan. 24 to 27 in Brodie's Robert Sinclair Theater.

Assassins is written by John Weidman with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It tells the story of nine assassins who all, at one point, attempted to kill the president of the United States, and each have unique idiosyncrasies and agendas.

The personas given to each of the nine assassins range in color; from Lynette Fromme (junior Norma Butikofer), who tried to assassinate Gerald Ford in an effort to create a forum for Charles Manson to address the world at her trial, to John W. Hinckley Jr. (sophomore Michael Radi), who attempted to take the life of Ronald Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster. Equally beguiling was senior Christiana Shorter as Sara Jane Moore, who lived a dual life as a radical and FBI informant until she attempted to assassinate Gerald Ford in 1975.

The play as a whole is an attention-grabbing portrayal of the history of assassinations in America. The audience sees factual events from history creatively transformed through songs and tongue-in-cheek humor. Characters from different time periods interact with each other in a way that doesn't confuse the audience but rather makes one think about the similarities between all of the assassins. Although they each have their own reasons for trying to kill the president, they all take action to make their mark on history and be remembered.

However, we are continually reminded that their acts are fruitless; their violence accomplishes little and certainly doesn't help the causes that they feel so passionate about. We see the assassins physically come together in one of the last scenes in the play, when eight assassins join Lee Harvey Oswald (senior Mike Rosengarten), who is about to take his own life. They plead with him to instead kill John F. Kennedy, their song lyrics suggesting that if he can commit the audacious act it will unite them all and bring meaning to their lives.

Brodie's Black Box is a perfect setting for Assassins because of its intimacy. The close proximity to the actors is impacting, especially when each one is pointing a gun at the audience in the closing scene. It seems that senior Alexander MacDonald, was correct when he sang, "…first of all, when you've a gun, everybody pays attention." The cast of Assassins had the audience captivated from start to finish.