Assassins by Stephen Sondheim is about the men and women who killed or attempted to kill American presidents, and according to cast member Anthony Kinahan it is a very funny, exciting, fun show; a sort of musical review for these killers. Anthony plays Giuseppe Zangara who attempted to shot Franklin D. Roosevelt but missed and instead killed the major of Chicago. This is a show that also works as a history lesson!
Anthony describes it as a play that gives voice to the disenfranchised; those who have been shoved outside of society. The play does not apologise for these people but attempts to give an insight into why they did what they did. He says that they have been dis-empowered in so many ways that they can only find power through violence and while the story is told through an American frame, he feels that it still has a lot to say to Irish audiences. Anthony, who has an MA in Music Theatre from Central School of Speech and Drama in London says that the use of music in the show complements what’s happening on stage but it’s also insidious. As the audience find themselves humming the tunes on the way out of the theatre, their thoughts are more likely to return to the show and its themes again and again. The overtly performative nature of the show – the characters address the audience directly – also makes it hard for the audience to ignore these characters.
We also talked about the Sky Arts Ignition award that Rough Magic and Opera Theatre Company were joint recipients of, for a production of Rise and Fall of the City Mahagonny by Bertolt Brecht, set to music by Kurt Weill, and another play with direct social commentary that uses music to get its message across. And while it’s great to see the two companies getting the opportunity to make work of this scale, Anthony says it’s also nice to see Rough Magic rewarded, as they are a company who do a lot of training. He also has lots of good things to say about SEEDS director Ronan Phelan. Anthony said Ronan was very clear about his vision and what he wanted to do, while still being open to input from the cast. The cast of fourteen includes Ray Scannell, winner of Best Male Performer at this year’s Dublin Fringe Festival, WillFredd regulars Paul Curley and Shane O’Reilly and the wonderful Clare Barrett. Anthony says he feels lucky to be part of this performance and is delighted to get up and go off to work on this play, with these people every morning.
Now the work in the rehearsal room is finished and it’s time to let the audience in on the fun. Previews started last night and it runs at 9.15pm until December 14th. Tickets are €12 this week and €14/16 next week, available here.