Centre College students and faculty, along with members of the Danville community, are joining to present DramaCentre’s first musical production in four years, Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins.
The musical brings to life the stories of those who either attempted to or successfully assassinated a former President of the United States. Among those who appear in the show are: John Wilkes Booth, assassin of President Abraham Lincoln; John Hinckley, attempted assassin of President Ronald Reagan; and Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin of President John F. Kennedy.
Director Patrick Kagan-Moore says the show was chosen because it was “accessible,” both in format and in theme.
“The themes, we thought when selecting it, were pretty current,” he explains. “As this rehearsal process has transpired, it’s become clear that it’s not just current but really shows what’s happening right now in the American political scene.”
The interdisciplinary nature of the show appealed to dramatic arts and politics double major Zach Throne ’16, who says he auditioned for the play for that reason as well as to “build his repertoire.”
“We’re in the midst of an election cycle, and the ideas and themes that Sondheim brings out through this show are relevant and worth listening to,” Throne, who plays assassin Charles Guiteau, says.
For Rachel Bischoff ’18, who plays the Balladeer, the show’s greatest strength is that students have had a hand in almost every aspect.
“Centre is great about getting students involved in all parts of the production,” she says. “Students participate not just onstage but backstage as well. That’s not going to happen in every drama department.”
The production is bigger than typical DramaCentre fare, from its cast size to design aspects. Twenty student actors have been in rehearsals for three months, spending their time alternating between acting, vocal and dance rehearsals. Costumes, co-constructed by students, span a period of 150 years; the show’s set, built and designed with assistance from student carpenters, resembles a large-scale political convention center.
Music director Jaemi Loeb, who directs both students and members of the Danville community in the show’s pit band, says it has been rewarding to watch the performers’ hard work come together as the performance dates grow near.
“This rehearsal process has been as equally grueling as it is fascinating and fulfilling,” she explains. “Watching the actors develop into their characters and observing Patrick [Kagan-Moore] work with them, as well as seeing the pit band come together, is the fun of all this. It’s absolutely been worth the work.”
Kagan-Moore shares this sentiment.
“It’s been a joy—and just amazing,” he says. “All of the artists, all of these students and the voices that we’ve found, it’s just been a huge and exhilarating experience. It’s been wonderful.”
Tory Parker ’16, who plays anarchist Emma Goldman, hopes that those who attend the show will appreciate the work that has gone into this DramaCentre production.
“If you know anyone at Centre, you have a connection to this production,” she says. “Everyone from all aspects of Centre is working on it somehow. We’ve worked really hard, and we’ve made something really interesting.”
DramaCentre’s Assassins will open on Wednesday, April 20 at 8 p.m. Performances will also take place on Thursday, April 21, through Saturday, April 23, at 8 p.m. each night in Weisiger Theatre in Grant Hall.
Tickets are $10 for adults; $5 for senior citizens, students and groups of 10 or more; free to Centre faculty and staff; free to parents of Centre students; and free to Centre students with ID. Tickets are available from the Norton Center box office by calling 877-HIT-SHOW and at the Weisiger box office before curtain.
The Proprieter – Olivia Renfro ‘19
The Balladeer – Rachel Bischoff ‘18
Leon Czolgosz – Sean Fannin ‘17
John Hinckley – Grant Markwell ‘18
Charles Guiteau – Zach Throne ‘16
Giuseppe Zangara – Tyler Dawson-Arroyo ‘18
Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme – Natalie Trammell ‘17
Sara Jane Moore – Emilie O’Connor ‘17
John Wilkes Booth – Wallace Huff ‘19
Sam Byck – Chris Lockhart ‘17
Emma Goldman – Tory Parker ‘16
Lee Harvey Oswald – Brennen Amonett ‘19
Chorus – Carrie Fowler ’19, Emma Hoenemeyer ’18, Kirsten Giesbrecht ’17, Caleb Neely ’18, Tommy McFarland ’19, Emily Morrell ’16, Melissa Stravitz ’16, Sara Thesing ‘18
The Kid – Ben Haskett
Director – Patrick Kagan-Moore
Assistant Director – Jonathan Hunt ‘18
Musical Director – Jaemi Loeb
Assistant Musical Director – Hayley Hoffman ‘16
Stage Manager – Zoe Zink ‘19
Costume Designer – Kayla Higbee ‘14
Scenic/Lighting Designer – Matthew Hallock
Props Designer – Kaitlin Goodwin ‘17
Projection Designer – John Runyon-Hass ’19
Audio Designer/Engineer – Lauren Rutledge ’19
by Hayley Hoffman ’16
April 20, 2016